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New technology to block spying on Swiss ministers: president

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Switzerland will soon roll out a new technology to better shield communications within the government from prying eyes, President Ueli Maurer said in an interview published Sunday. 

President Ueli Maurer gives a press conference on October 15, 2013 in Bern

"We will introduce a new technology in the coming days or weeks, (which) will improve security in the government," Maurer told the Schweiz am Sonntag weekly.

Refusing to provide more details on what the new technology consisted of and how it would work, Maurer said the decision to deploy it was made before the latest reports of US spying on world leaders.

Those reports, including allegations that Washington has been tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone, made clear "what intelligence agencies are capable of today, and that apparently anyone who is interesting must expect eavesdropping," he said.

In a separate interview in the SonntagsZeitung weekly, Maurer warned that the scandal risked "undermining confidence between states".

"We don't know if we're only seeing the tip of the iceberg or if other governments are acting in the same ruthless manner," he said.

Maurer said that Swiss ministers have always been cautious about their communications and mobile phones are banned from all government meetings.

For sensitive calls, "I do it on a landline, which is considered less risky," he told Schweiz am Sonntag, adding that ministers try as far as possible to discuss sensitive issues in person and not over the phone.

Maurer said he rarely uses his mobile phone, and only for personal calls.

The Swiss president said there was so far was no evidence of US spying on him or other members of the government, and acknowledged they were likely far less interesting to spy on than Merkel.

But he added, "I wouldn't rule anything out today."

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