German army denies report on Microsoft ban

"This report is wrong," said the ministry spokesman. "We have a general licence contract with Microsoft, and that is remaining in force." He added that various security measures, including firewalls, are being implemented in consultation with the German federal IT security agency BSI (Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik), but declined to give further details.

Der Spiegel reported in its March 17 online edition that the Defence Ministry is concerned that US intelligence services could gain access to secret information. German security officials are aware that the US National Security Agency (NSA) has access to "all relevant source codes" to Microsoft software, Der Spiegel said. Authorities plan to rely on encryption technology from the German companies Siemens and Deutsche Telekom instead.

"There are no back doors in any Microsoft products," said spokeswoman Louise Conroy of Microsoft's Europe, Middle East, and Africa headquarters. "We're committed to providing secure products that can be used to protect the integrity of all our customers worldwide." Asked about reports that NSA had been given access to source codes, she would only say, "Over the years, Microsoft has had its products evaluated by independent third parties to confirm that they meet US, Canadian, and European security standards."

"In France we had such a comment in late February about NSA and software and source code," said Guillaume Tourres, a spokesman in Microsoft's Paris office. "The NSA rumour is coming back every two or three months. We are used to answering these questions."

He added that the company is in negotiations with the French government to grant access to source code. "We have a worldwide program where authorities will be able to have the source code of Windows and other Microsoft software," he said.