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Bug-proof? How the Swiss government keeps its secrets secret

As the row over spying by the US National Security Agency (NSA) deepens – it was reported this week that the NSA monitored calls of 35 world leaders – concerns are being raised about politicians’ communications. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)

The latest revelations that the US National Security Agency swept up more than 70 million phone records in France and may have tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s own mobile phone, have been closely followed in Switzerland.

Swiss cabinet ministers use mobile phones that allows calls to be encrypted. The technology is top secret, and experts say absolute security is technically feasible.

According to a cryptology analyst at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, the problem is that many are using software, an operating system for example, which could have weaknesses built in by the secret service. But if system is developed from scratch by a government for its own use only, it could be made so it is absolutely spy-proof.

It's not only about finding the right technology though. When the Swiss government holds meetings, phones are left outside the room.

And the protocols are handled very carefully. Only last month, the Swiss government ordered the defence ministry to continue its investigation into any spying activities that had taken place in Switzerland with a view to proposing extra security measures.

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