Deutsche Telekom favourite to replace Verizon as German government comms provider

Deutsche Telekom emerged as the frontrunner to replace Verizon as the German government's main communications provider, after a decision to drop the U.S. operator due to concerns about spying.

German chancellor Angela Merkel

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel

A spokesman for the German government said it aims to work with domestic companies in order to have more control over its technology, but stopped short of revealing any details on whether Verizon passed data to the U.S. government, Bloomberg reported.

The spokesman added that a parliamentary budget committee has already discussed proposals to hire Deutsche Telekom to run three communications networks for the government, but that a contract has yet to be signed, the news agency stated.

Germany's government cancelled its contract with Verizon last week, after it failed to gain assurances that the U.S. government would not spy on its communications, Reuters reported.

Those talks were prompted by allegations of U.S. government snooping made by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, which included a claim that the mobile phone of German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, had been tapped.

Verizon has provided internet services to Germany's government since 2010, but does not handle more sensitive communications between ministries and intelligence agencies, which are already provided by Deutsche Telekom, sister publication Fierce Telecom noted.

Snowden's revelations have led to fierce debate on personal privacy protection in Europe.

Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone recently revealed data on the number of requests by security agencies for interception of communications with which the companies are legally required to comply. The companies said they plan to publish the data annually, however, Dr. Gus Hosein, executive director of human rights group Privacy International, said more must be done to reveal the "secret agreements" between companies and security agencies regarding communications monitoring.

UK Home Secretary, Theresa May, separately said that the government there has failed to properly explain why security services need to be able to intercept and monitor communications in the interests of national security, and vowed to try again to introduce legislation that would protect the rights of security agencies to monitor communications.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- read the Reuters report
- see this Fierce Telecom report

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