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Company fights espionage by putting cell phones in biscuit tins

A German chemicals company said on Monday its managers have begun keeping their mobile phones in biscuit tins during meetings in order to guard against industrial espionage.

Company fights espionage by putting cell phones in biscuit tins
Photo: DPA

“Experts have told us that mobile phones are being eavesdropped on more and more, even when they are switched off,” Alexandra Boy, spokeswoman for Essen-based speciality chemicals maker Evonik, told AFP.

“The measure applies mostly when sensitive issues are being discussed, for the most part in research and development,” she said, confirming a report in business weekly Wirtschaftswoche.

Biscuit tins have a so-called Farraday cage effect, she said, blocking out electromagnetic radiation and therefore preventing people from hacking into mobile phones, not only for calls but also to get hold of emails.

The firm, with 34,000 employees and sales of 13 billion euros ($18.5 billion), is not alone in wanting to defend itself against what experts warn are increasingly sophisticated methods of industrial espionage.

This month the German government opened a new national centre in Bonn to coordinate efforts not only to protect firms from espionage but also state infrastructure from cyberattacks.

AFP/mdm

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CRIME

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.

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