Like The NSA And GCHQ, Germany's Foreign Intelligence Agency Uses A Legal Loophole To Spy On Its Own Citizens

from the well,-fancy-that dept

One of the striking features of the responses to Edward Snowden’s leaks about the snooping being carried out by the NSA and GCHQ is the insistence that everything is, of course, quite “legal.” But gradually, it has emerged that this “legality” is achieved through the use of loophole after loophole after loophole after loophole. Now it has been revealed that Germany’s intelligence agency, the BND, has also been using this trick to enable it to spy on its own citizens — something that was assumed to be off-limits for it:

The agency, known by its German acronym BND, is not usually allowed to intercept communications made by Germans or German companies, but a former BND lawyer told parliament this week that citizens working abroad for foreign companies were not protected.

The German government confirmed on Saturday that work-related calls or emails were attributed to the employer. As a result, if the employer is foreign, the BND could legally intercept them.

This latest story in the Guardian adds to the impression that widespread domestic surveillance is taking place because of a willful disregarding of the rules through the use of these loopholes. Maybe one way to start to rein in spy agencies would be to insist that they followed the spirit as well as the letter of the law — and if they don’t, to bring in even more stringent definitions of permissible activities in an attempt to close as many of these gaping loopholes as possible.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

Filed Under: , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Like The NSA And GCHQ, Germany's Foreign Intelligence Agency Uses A Legal Loophole To Spy On Its Own Citizens”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
10 Comments
Anonymoussays:

Sadly, I believe we’re all well past any hope of closing all the loopholes. It’s possible for domestic data to be routed outside one’s own country, due to how the internet routing works. I’m sure intelligence agencies consider such domestic data fair game.

The NSA can also have GCHQ intercept American data and vise versa. All perfectly legal, because the interception is being done by a foreign country. It’s simply incidental that the foreign country happens to be a Five-Eyes partner we share data with.

Heck, even a German user visiting TechDirt.com is enough for BND to legally spy on Germans.

I’m still gonna have to go with Ed Snowden. Technological solutions, not outdated laws or politics, is the only true way of reining in mass spying.

Anonymoussays:

“Maybe one way to start to rein in spy agencies would be to insist that they followed the spirit as well as the letter of the law”

They would then just apply their own interpretation of “the spirit”. As long as these agencies are allowed to judge themselves, and make up their own definitions and interpretations, the problem will continue.

That One Guysays:

Maybe one way to start to rein in spy agencies would be to insist that they followed the spirit as well as the letter of the law — and if they don’t, to bring in even more stringent definitions of permissible activities in an attempt to close as many of these gaping loopholes as possible.

If they already ignore the current laws, then tightening up the text means squat, they’ll just ignore the ‘new’ laws too. No, what’s needed is stricter punishments, on the books and enforced for those found violating the spirit of the law.

If the law says ‘No spying on citizens of your own country’, and they do that, a hefty bit of prison time at a minimum seems like a fitting punishment.

Uriel-238says:

Re: Re:

The problem becomes when the spirit of the law is unclear, or there is contention between experts as to what the spirit of the law is.

Also, agencies like the CIA are more than willing to, like large corporations, toss out a sacrificial lamb, a patsy, to be jailed for war crimes that were deemed necessary.

Ultimately, we may just have to create our laws the way we create our sourcecode, and make it foolproof enough that a computer can interpret it, and ultimately does.

Though a quote recently posted here applies:

It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.
— James Madison saying “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”

GEMontsays:

Bend over and take it like a man....

Ah the eternal gullibility of the common people.

It warms the cockles of so many off-shore bank accounts.

When, I wonder, will it occur to the citizens of earth, that, since these spy agencies – regardless of nationality – have without pause and without exception, lied continuously and repeatedly, without consequence, in response to every single question concerning their activities, for decades, that they and their masters are also lying about the stated grand purpose for the whole surveillance program – terrorism?

My guess, and the spy-guys’ masters’ hopes….

Never. And I assume they will get their wish.

Why?

Because its just too scary to contemplate the notion that those who run the world might actually BE the very Evil that they pretend to fight, at your expense, simply so they can keep everyone afraid and begging for their protection from their make-believe bogeymen and use the wealth of the world – given willingly by the sheep – for their own pleasures.

It is simply too difficult for good people to comprehend the lengths to which bad people will go to “get theirs”.

It has always been this way and the real bad guys depend on it remaining this way.

Oh well. I expect that we do not have too many years left before the Next Evil Empire will shrug off its Democratic facade and show its real face to the world, so what the hell, have another beer and change the channel.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Report this ad??|??Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...
Older Stuff
12:25 Australian Privacy Commissioner Says 7-Eleven Broke Privacy Laws By Scanning Customers' Faces At Survey Kiosks (6)
10:50 Missouri Governor Doubles Down On 'View Source' Hacking Claim; PAC Now Fundraising Over This Bizarrely Stupid Claim (45)
10:45 Daily Deal: The All-in-One Microsoft, Cybersecurity, And Python Exam Prep Training Bundle (0)
09:43 Want To Understand Why U.S. Broadband Sucks? Look At Frontier Communications In Wisconsin, West Virginia (8)
05:36 Massachusetts College Decides Criticizing The Chinese Government Is Hate Speech, Suspends Conservative Student Group (71)
19:57 Le Tigre Sues Barry Mann To Stop Copyright Threats Over Song, Lights Barry Mann On Fire As Well (21)
16:07 Court Says City Of Baltimore's 'Heckler's Veto' Of An Anti-Catholic Rally Violates The First Amendment (15)
13:37 Two Years Later, Judge Finally Realizes That A CDN Provider Is Not Liable For Copyright Infringement On Websites (21)
12:19 Chicago Court Gets Its Prior Restraint On, Tells Police Union Head To STFU About City's Vaccine Mandate (158)
10:55 Verizon 'Visible' Wireless Accounts Hacked, Exploited To Buy New iPhones (8)
10:50 Daily Deal: The MacOS 11 Course (0)
07:55 Suing Social Media Sites Over Acts Of Terrorism Continues To Be A Losing Bet, As 11th Circuit Dumps Another Flawed Lawsuit (11)
02:51 Trump Announces His Own Social Network, 'Truth Social,' Which Says It Can Kick Off Users For Any Reason (And Already Is) (100)
19:51 Facebook AI Moderation Continues To Suck Because Moderation At Scale Is Impossible (26)
16:12 Content Moderation Case Studies: Snapchat Disables GIPHY Integration After Racist 'Sticker' Is Discovered (2018) (11)
13:54 Arlo Makes Live Customer Service A Luxury Option (8)
12:05 Delta Proudly Announces Its Participation In The DHS's Expanded Biometric Collection Program (5)
11:03 LinkedIn (Mostly) Exits China, Citing Escalating Demands For Censorship (14)
10:57 Daily Deal: The Python, Git, And YAML Bundle (0)
09:37 British Telecom Wants Netflix To Pay A Tax Simply Because Squid Game Is Popular (32)
06:41 Report: Client-Side Scanning Is An Insecure Nightmare Just Waiting To Be Exploited By Governments (35)
20:38 MLB In Talks To Offer Streaming For All Teams' Home Games In-Market Even Without A Cable Subscription (10)
15:55 Appeals Court Says Couple's Lawsuit Over Bogus Vehicle Forfeiture Can Continue (15)
13:30 Techdirt Podcast Episode 301: Scarcity, Abundance & NFTs (0)
12:03 Hollywood Is Betting On Filtering Mandates, But Working Copyright Algorithms Simply Don't Exist (66)
10:45 Introducing The Techdirt Insider Discord (4)
10:40 Daily Deal: The Dynamic 2021 DevOps Training Bundle (0)
09:29 Criminalizing Teens' Google Searches Is Just How The UK's Anti-Cybercrime Programs Roll (19)
06:29 Canon Sued For Disabling Printer Scanners When Devices Run Out Of Ink (41)
20:51 Copyright Law Discriminating Against The Blind Finally Struck Down By Court In South Africa (7)
More arrow