25 September 2023

GERMANY: PS soccer fans to leave phones home

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German Public Servants planning to go to Russia to support their team in the Football World Cup have been urged to leave their smartphones at home.

The Ministry of the Interior of Germany’s most populous State, North Rhine–Westphalia, issued the warning, saying workers’ private electronic devices could become targets for Russian espionage.

“It is therefore recommended that you do not take private IT and smartphones with you,” the Ministry said.

PS employees were instead advised to use “non-web-enabled spare mobile phones” while in Russia.

“It should be ensured that no business content is stored on private IT,” the Ministry said.

“This includes, for example, business contact lists in the phone book.”

The Ministry’s press office said there had been incidents in the past in connection with Turkey and Russia in which travellers had their mobile phones confiscated.

The phones were returned without any comment after a certain time, but afterwards it was discovered that the devices had been partly read.

In Germany, Russia is on a list of about 30 risky countries, compiled with the participation of diplomats, members of the Federal Intelligence Service, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, and the Military Counter-Intelligence Service.

Certain officials who have access to state secrets must inform their superiors of their plans when travelling to such countries.

It is unclear whether there have been similar safety instructions at a Federal level.

Berlin, 4 June 2018

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