• Germany's news in English

NSA inquiry chief suffers phone tampering

The Local · 4 Mar 2015, 10:35

Published: 04 Mar 2015 10:35 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Die Welt reported on Wednesday that Christian Democratic Union (CDU) MP Sensburg's encrypted Blackberry Z30 wasn't working properly in February.

Parliamentary officials immediately packed it in a lead-lined container (to block wireless signals) and sent it for testing at the Federal Office of IT Security (BSI) in Bonn by ordinary DHL parcel post.

It was the first time an MP's phone had had to be transported in this way.

But the Bundestag confirmed to Die Welt that the BIS found the signal-proof container had been opened before the phone arrived at their offices.

Authorities have now launched an investigation into persons unknown over the opening of the container, while the BSI attempts to discover what might have been extracted from the device – a process that will take several weeks.

A tempting target

As leader of the NSA inquiry, Sensburg regularly works with classified files as the MPs try to identify misdeeds by intelligence agencies in the wake of revelations by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden – including the fact that Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone was tapped.

The inquiry was recently the target of an intimidation attempt by British spy agency GCHQ, which threatened to withdraw intelligence co-operation with Germany if the MPs probed the relationship too deeply.

This week, they are hearing a former head of department from Germany's own foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND).

Sensburg and the leaders of each party's team in the committee – who have access to more sensitive information than the other MPs – carry encrypted phones, and all the members have safes in their offices.

Internal intelligence (Verfassungsschutz) officers warned the members that they were extremely attractive targets for spying attempts and should be concealing their communications.


Story continues below…

Government administrators have taken delivery of around 3,000 encrypted smartphones since the Snowden revelations, and expect the number to increase in the coming years.

But the €2,000 devices, mostly made by Canadian smartphone company Blackberry and encrypted by German company Secusmart, are only certified for information at the lowest level - “Classified” - of Germany's four secrecy ratings.

Many users have also complained that the phones have poor battery life, delays in conversations and poor sound quality.

SEE ALSO: British spies tell German MPs to back off

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd