IT community denies CIA order

A Viennese internet and research group has rubbished reports it has been “personally assigned” by US President Barack Obama to create a “bug-proof internet” for the CIA.

Newspaper Heute claimed earlier this week that an Austrian firm called FunkFeuer agreed to construct the top-level security system for the USA’s national intelligence agency. The free sheet also reported that the project’s budget was 70 million US dollars (48.6 million Euros). It compared the deal with plots of espionage films like James Bond. “No cinema thriller can take it up with this super coup,” the daily paper wrote.

Now a spokesman for the mentioned company has stressed that the story was a hoax. “To cut it short: it’s made up,” Aaron Kaplan said about the Heute article in an interview with Die Presse. He pointed out never having spoken to Heute despite being quoted in the newspaper’s article.

Kaplan explained FunkFeuer has never been in touch with US American authorities. “We were never asked to cooperate. No money has exchanged hands,” he told Die Presse today (Weds).

Referring to what Heute described as a “tap-proof internet solution which fits into a suitcase,” Kaplan said the paper may have referred to so-called mesh networks his firm has been focusing on. He explained FunkFeuer uses an open source protocol unlikely to be chosen by the CIA to create a high-tech technology in its fight against global terrorism. However, the United States are understood to support ideas of creating communication alternatives to the internet for opposition groups in dictatorships like Libya, Syria and Iran.

Kaplan explained FunkFeuer was more of a private pleasure as it consists of a group of IT experts examining the opportunities of wireless local area network (WLAN) solutions. FunkFeuer has been engaged in establishing a free form of this data transmission technology in Vienna, he said. Speaking to Der Standard newspaper, the IT and internet expert emphasised that FunkFeuer has not received any money from the CIA.