Report: German army bans Microsoft software

Germany's military will not use Microsoft software on computers in 'sensitive areas' because of concern that US intelligence services could gain access to secret information.

          Germany's military will not use Microsoft software on computers in "sensitive areas," according to the news magazine Der Spiegel. The defense ministry is concerned that US intelligence services could gain access to secret information, the magazine said in its March 17 online edition.

          German security officials are aware that the US National Security Agency (NSA) has access to "all relevant source codes" to Microsoft software, Der Spiegel said. Authorities plan to rely on encryption technology from the German companies Siemens AG and Deutsche Telekom AG instead.

          Spokespersons for Microsoft and for the German defense ministry could not be immediately reached for comment.

          Der Spiegel further reported that Germany's Foreign Ministry has cancelled plans for video teleconferencing with its overseas delegations after establishing that all such satellite signals travel by way of Denver "for technical reasons."

          "I can't confirm that," said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Sparwasser. "The Foreign Ministry is continuing to carry out teleconferencing, between our offices in Bonn and Berlin, for example." She added that there are no plans for teleconferencing with overseas offices "because they are not set up technically to do that ... it's a question of money."

          Sparwasser said that officials were aware of security concerns raised by teleconferencing technology. "Of course it's very difficult to make it completely secure against eavesdropping. We take that into account," she said.

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