Deutsche Telekom to launch phone encryption for the masses

BARCELONA Mon Feb 24, 2014 3:08pm IST

The logo of Deutsche Telekom is pictured on the 266 metre high ''Colonia'' TV tower in the western German city of Cologne March 25, 2013. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/Files

The logo of Deutsche Telekom is pictured on the 266 metre high ''Colonia'' TV tower in the western German city of Cologne March 25, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay/Files

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BARCELONA (Reuters) - Deutsche Telekom(DTEGn.DE) is to launch an app for smartphones that encrypts voice and text messages and will be available to all its users.

Consumer privacy fears have sparked intense interest in encryption products for mobile phones, especially after leaks from U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden last year suggested the United States had monitored phone conversations of some 35 world leaders, including Germany's Angela Merkel.

The cloud-based app will encrypt each voice or text exchange between two devices using a unique code, Deutsche Telekom said in a statement.

The app will be officially unveiled at CeBIT technology trade fair in Hanover, Germany, in mid-March but it is not yet clear when it will be made available to customers.

It will first be available for Android smartphones with a version for iOS smartphones to be launched later.

The service will be run by Deutsche Telekom's enterprise unit T-Systems in cooperation with Germany's Sichere Mobile Kommunikation mbH (GSMK), a provider of encrypted phone services and devices.

"To the best of my knowledge, this marks the first time that a major network operator throws its full weight behind end-to-end mobile voice encryption," GSMK's Chief Executive Bjoern Rupp said on Monday.

"This is not just in the form of a specialised niche product, but in the form of a mass market-compatible product that will be rolled out to all of its customers," he told Reuters at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Europe's largest annual phone industry conference.

Deutsche Telekom said the product would first be available to its business customers.

(Reporting by Harro ten Wolde; Editing by Pravin Char)

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