German customers are testing a network that could protect them from the prying eyes of the US intelligence services, according to Deutsche Telekom. The so-called “Clean Pipe” service was proposed in 2013 in response to the NSA PRISM surveillance scandal revealed by leaks from Edward Snowden.
German telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom revealed that its customers are already testing the Clean Pipe service , which will allow them to run security systems such as firewall and email security through DT’s servers instead of their own.
Juergen Kohr, the head of Deutsche Telekom’s new cybersecurity unit told Bloomberg that the company plans to move the entire system to its network over coming years.
“If we were to serve 1 million small- and medium-sized companies, you can imagine what amounts of data will need to be sent to the system for clean-up,” he was quoted as saying. “It will require deep integration into the network, which is something no other provider can do.”
“Companies have become much more aware of the threat situation, which will enable us to increasingly sell security products on a standalone basis,” he said.
Deutsche Telekom sees the Clean Pipe service, which is reportedly set to roll out in May to a larger group of customers, as a way to combat a decline in its broadband market share in its domestic market. The move would also allow the carrier to tap into a wider European cybersecurity market.
The Clean Pipe solution apparently requires customers to install a router made by Lancom Systems in order to connect to Deutsche Telekom’s servers. Kohr said that by late 2015 or early 2016, Deutsche Telekom’s infrastructure may be ready to fully take over delivery of security services. And the carrier is also said to be in talks with larger companies to deploy its Advanced Cyber Defense offering, which involves customised detection of security breaches and responses to minimise the damage.
Last October Deutsche Telekom proposed the creation of a ‘German Internet’ that would route domestic web traffic within the country, protecting it from foreign surveillance. Privacy is a sensitive issue in Germany, and matters were not helped last year when reports emerged that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone had been hacked by US spies.
The idea of a ‘German Internet’ has its critics however, who warn that the system would not work when Germans use websites that are hosted abroad, for example Google or Facebook. This would require government legislation that would place an obligation on foreign companies to host their websites in Germany itself. Some meanwhile have also questioned the practicality of proposal, given that 90 percent of German traffic is already carried within its borders.
And there is also the argument that such a system would be contrary to the open nature of the Internet and any erection of digital borders would hinder its operation. Such an approach is more common in China and Iran, where governments limit what people can access and would be unprecedented for a developed country like Germany.
Germany is not alone in this however. Swisscom has also announced its “Swiss Cloud,” in which servers are locally hosted in Switzerland and all client data is stored and remains in-country. Swisscom has said that its offering is “unrelated” to recent NSA revelations.
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