Deutsche Telekom: NSA/GCHQ revelations an opportunity

German operator group Deutsche Telekom has hailed last year’s revelations that the US spy agency NSA and the UK’s GCHQ had been monitoring ordinary citizens’ browsing and messaging habits as an “opportunity” for operators to provide data privacy and data security services.

The operator said that before the revelations, primarily from 2014 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Edward Snowden, about the NSA and GCHQ were made, data privacy and security were never in the public spotlight as much as they are now. Deutsche Telekom added that it is looking to focus on providing data privacy and IT security for customers in order to differentiate itself from competition.

“The revelations from Edward Snowden were certainly a wake-up call,” said Thomas Kremer, Board member for Data Privacy, Legal Affairs and Compliance at Deutsche Telekom. “Going forward, we need to keep our eyes wide open. Politics, business and science now need to work out solutions.”

The operator has published a report on data privacy and data security, in which EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding stresses the importance of European data privacy laws. It also outlines the measures the operator is implementing internationally to enhance data privacy, as well as the risks and opportunities of big data applications and cloud computing and how hackers work at the firm.

Last month, Deutsche Telekom increased the security for voice transmissions in its German network to better protect its subscribers from eavesdropping. The operator deployed the A5/3 encryption standard for voice transmission, which is was being rolled out nationwide.

The company has also said it will avoid routing customers’ email traffic through US hosted infrastructure and will step up email security in the wake of the NSA PRISM spying scandal.

At the launch of its ‘Email made in Germany’ program in August last year, former CEO René Obermann said Deutsche Telekom and its partners would rollout SSL (Https) encrypted connections between users’ client devices and the operator’s email servers.

“Germans are deeply unsettled by the latest reports on the potential interception of communication data. Our initiative is designed to counteract this concern and make email communication throughout Germany more secure in general. Protection of the private sphere is a valuable commodity,” said Obermann.

The company claims the initiative offers secure communication for two-thirds of all email users in Germany and is open to other providers who commit to the standards set out by the initiative.

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