July 16, 2014

German politicians may turn to typewriters for privacy


A German politician believes this machine can evade the NSA.

A German politician believes this machine can evade the NSA.

No, it’s not a joke.

German politicians are so frustrated with revelations of wiretapping and surveillance by the United States that are thinking about going back to using typewriters for correspondence, according to the Guardian. Apparently, they’d rather eschew technology than risk leaking highly sensitive information with use of electronic phones and computers.

And to play it really safe, they want to make sure to use  old-fashioned mechanical typewriters. When a German TV host asked if government officials have really considering using them, German politician Patrick Sensburg said “As a matter of fact, we have – and not electronic models either… no joke.”

It makes sense. When Angela Merkel found out that the NSA was listening in to her cell phone conversations last year, the German government banned iPhones for calls about state business and required high-ranking politicians to use encrypted cell phones for certain calls. But since then, even the safety of those fancy encryption devices have been called into question.

Fortunately, the Guardian story points out that Germans haven’t been afraid to use another old tactic — drowning out conversations with music.

The Bundestag’s NSA inquiry committee has found its own way of protecting itself from surveillance: before every meeting, members leave their mobiles in a metal box in an adjacent room, in which any remaining snippets of conversation are drowned out by the music of Edvard Grieg played at full blast.

Good idea! If you too need to protect yourself, use Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor below. A particularly loud and chaotic part is between 8:25 and 9:02 minutes. For extra safety, listen to it while typing on your typewriter.



Claire Kelley is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House.