Germany is reportedly mulling the creation of its own Internet to secure communications from spying by foreign intelligence services in the wake of allegations that the United States bugged German chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone.
State-backed Deutsche Telekom is currently urging other German communications firms to "cooperate to shield local Internet traffic from foreign intelligence services" like the National Security Agency (NSA), Reuters reported Friday.
Earlier, Der Spiegel reported that German intelligence, working with information from NSA leaker Edward Snowden supplied via the news weekly, had concluded that the NSA had likely eavesdropped on Merkel's phone communications.
President Barack Obama denied that any such activity had occurred in a phone call with Merkel, but the German chancellor was reportedly livid about the report.
Germany is considered one of the most privacy-conscious countries in the world and that sentiment has only been fanned by these events. But the Deutsche Telekom proposal could be very difficult to pull off in a practical way, experts cited by Reuters said, even though "more than 90 percent of Germany's Internet traffic already stays within its borders," according to the news service.
A completely walled-off German Internet would mean Germans would be unable to access sites like Google and Facebook, which are hosted outside of the country. That kind of top-down control over what parts of the Internet citizens can access is more commonly seen in places like Iran and China, where oppressive regimes curtail access to the Internet, Reuters' sources noted.
Doing something similar in Germany might sound good in theory, but probably wouldn't be very popular in the long run.
Some of the sources also noted that it would likely prove tough for Deutsche Telekom to get rival broadband providers to sign on for a project that would involve sharing proprietary networking technologies and information.
Meanwhile, for some German Internet users, it's cheaper to route traffic through other countries rather than pay Deutsche Telekom relatively high prices for broadband service.
The prospect of pricier service fees and limited access to the entire web might kill the prospect of a German-run Internet before it ever gets off the ground, but there are other ways to curtail online snooping, Reuters noted.
Adding more teeth to a European Union data privacy law currently being considered by member states is one such way. Germany and France are now pushing EU member states to get a tougher version of that law on the books by 2015, the news agency reported.