Secret Services Are Back Using Manual Typewriters

Back in the day, circa 1980. Three former typewriter users in the Munster Express newsroom, the late Pierce Dower, Tom Young and your columnist.

Back in the day, circa 1980. Three former typewriter users in the Munster Express newsroom, the late Pierce Dower, Tom Young and your columnist.

There is an old adage that says ‘what goes around comes around’ and I was reminded of it this week when it was revealed that confidential documents in the German and Russian governments are now being processed on typewriters – that’s it, old fashioned, manual typewriters totally independent of electricity and the internet.

Bar some antique shops, I bet you couldn’t buy a manual typewriter in Waterford if you tried.

The change is all to do with security and, last month, the Kremlin’s security chiefs spent close to €20,000 on typewriters.

Both the Germans and Russians discovered that the US National Security Agency was snooping on their work via electronic means and such was the public controversy that some embassy staff were expelled and diplomats are working feverishly to repair relations, especially between the US and Germany.

Mind you, it’s only a scandal when it becomes public knowledge because most countries in the world are spying on each other as best they can.

It’s a huge global industry involving millions of people scrutinising all sorts of political, industrial and economic data.

But it is interesting that old-fashioned typewriters are being brought back into the equation. Of course, all they have to do now is make sure that nobody reads any of the typewriter documents out of doors because modern day spy-satellites can capture the smallest of images from the safety of their orbits in space. These days, we are rarely alone folks, if ever.

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