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Kremlin Turns to Old Technology to Avoid Leaks

  • VOA News

FILE - International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) the Selectric color typewriter, circa 1960's
Russia's Federal Guard Service, or FSO, which is charged with protecting the country's highest government officials, including President Vladimir Putin, plans to buy electric typewriters to avoid leaks from computers.

Russian media, including the pro-government daily newspaper Izvestia, report that the plan to purchase typewriters was prompted by the publication of secret documents by the WikiLeaks website and the activities of former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked secret documents detailing surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency.

Another reason cited is the NSA's alleged snooping on Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in 2009, while he was in London for a G20 summit.

According to the reports, the FSO plans to spend about $15,000 to buy the electric typewriters, which are widely considered obsolete.

Experts say that paper documents are easier to trace, given that every typewriter has a unique pattern. They add, however, that paper documents can easily be stolen or photographed.

Back in 1970s, Soviet spies successfully installed keystroke recorders in at least thirteen electric typewriters in the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Consulate in Moscow. The discovery of the devices heightened tensions between the two countries.