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Vatican's high-tech security made eavesdropping impossible at conclave

Catholic World News - October 31, 2013

Contrary to a widely circulated report, the US National Security Agency (NSA) could not have eavesdropped on the conclave that elected Pope Francis, a veteran Vatican journalist has reported.

Andrea Tornielli of La Stampa writes that the Vatican had deployed sophisticated anti-bugging technology in the Sistine Chapel and throughout the apostolic palace in the days leading up to the conclave. The anti-bugging measures were already in place during the general congregations at which cardinals exchanged ideas prior to the opening of the conclave. Reporters who were in the building testified that internet connections were interrupted and cell-phone signals lost when the system was activated.

Vatican security experts take pride in their ability to foil espionage, Tornielli reports. They note, too, that although the hackers’ collective known as “Anonymous” made a concerted attack on the Vatican internet site, they were not able to gain access to the site— although Anonymous has successfully hacked into the sites of many government agencies and multinational corporations.

The Vatican’s anti-bugging measures would not have prevented NSA eavesdropping on the conversations held by prelates outside the apostolic palace, in the days leading up to the conclave. But the NSA insists that the Vatican was not a target, and Vatican officials profess to be unconcerned by the reports of eavesdropping.

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