Germans Prefer a German Cloud, Thanks to Snowden Revelations

By CIOReview | Monday, February 24, 2014
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FREMONT, CA: The German Intelligence Agency, no longer trusts the internet to share sensitive information. It prefers to type it out and deliver it by hand. This is the result of the Edward Snowden’s revelations last year about the National Security Agency’s PRISM electronic intelligence-gathering program; reports Matthew Schofield for McClatchy Dc.

Peter Henzler, Vice President, Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), said, “We’re now carrying our information to our allies on foot.”

This passes on a clear message that the Germans do not trust the U.S. as they spy on each and every characteristic of their life and policy. Just a few months ago it was revealed that the American Intelligence Agency was, for several years, tapping the cellphone of the current chancellor Angela Merkel and that is not all, it’s been disclosed that the cellphone of Gerhard Schroeder (German Chancellor from 1998 – 2005) too had been tapped by the U.S.

Most of the Germans now feel unsafe on the internet and have gone to the extent of reducing their time on Facebook for fear of being spied upon

The fear of spying by the U.S. is not just limited to Germany. After it was noticed by the United Arab Emirates that there were U.S components in the French intelligence satellites, the $900 deal is in doubt as it is felt that their data would be compromised.

Florian Glatzner, Policy Officer, German Federal Consumer Protection Agency, said that they were finding it difficult to cope up with a lot of consumer questions about ensuring that their communications and data were safe from the NSA spying. He said, “A lot of the trust in the big Internet companies is gone, and most of the big Internet companies were based in the U.S.”

Thomas Kremer, Board Member, Data Privacy, the German phone giant—Deutsche Telekom, said, “Regardless of what one thinks of Edward Snowden, he created an awareness for Internet security and we should be grateful for that.”

According to experts, the effect of the distrust placed on the U.S is taking its toll on the cloud computing market. American companies are the biggest players in the cloud computing industry along with providing the best products; however, this was before the revelations by Snowden. Now people are demanding for a European cloud governed by European privacy laws to protect all communications and data.

The American dream of dominating the cloud is far from becoming a reality as it is felt that any data that passes through the U.S. is not safe. The new initiative, backed by German tech companies, is a “German Cloud” whose motto is “My company data stays in Germany”, thus offering the German stamp of approval for data safety and security.

Daniel Castro, Senior Analyst, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, Washington, said that about a year ago, a German cloud was a bad idea as German businesses did not want a German product to assist them in the global market; however, now they are accepting it as an option as it is a necessity. He further states that the cloud computing market is growing rapidly and this is a bad time for the U.S. According to him, the U.S. cloud providers can expect a fall by 5 percent this year and by 20 percent by 2016, thanks to the spying allegations the country is facing.

According to Reinhold Achatz, Head of Technology and Innovation, ThyssenKrupp, the Germans are paranoid about data security and safety. He said, “Whoever can read data is also likely to be able to change data.For example, they could switch off a power station. So from my point of view, it wouldn’t be surprising if someone came up with the idea of switching off Germany.”

Christian Stoecker, Editor, Spiegel Online, stated, “Before Snowden, I did not know that the NSA intercepts hardware shipped to European telecommunications companies by U.S. manufacturers and swaps the BIOS (basic operating system that starts up a computer) to make the equipment usable for NSA purposes.The NSA practically turned the Internet into a weapons system. If we want to change things, we have to enter into disarmament talks.”