Germany's Spies Store 11 Billion Pieces Of Phone Metadata A Year — And Pass On 6 Billion To The NSA

from the bad-sex dept

Given Germany’s high-profile attachment to privacy, it’s always interesting to hear about ways in which its spies have been ignoring that tradition. Here, for example, is a story in the German newspaper Die Zeit about the country’s foreign intelligence agency BND gathering metadata from millions of phone records every day:

Zeit Online has learned from secret BND documents that five agency locations are involved in gathering huge amounts of metadata. Metadata vacuumed up across the world — 220 million pieces of it every single day — flows into BND branch offices in the German towns of Schöningen, Reinhausen, Bad Aibling and Gablingen. There, they are stored for between a week and six months and sorted according to still-unknown criteria.

Exactly where the BND obtains the data remains unclear. The Bundestag [German parliament] committee investigating the NSA spying scandal has uncovered that the German intelligence agency intercepts communications traveling via both satellites and Internet cables. The 220 million metadata are only one part of what is amassed from these eavesdropping activities. It is certain that the metadata only come from “foreign dialed traffic,” in other words, from telephone conversations and text messages that are held and sent via mobile telephony and satellites.

As in the US and UK, the German spies attempt to pull the “it’s only metadata, so it’s not surveillance” trick:

Many people don’t realize how much information can be derived from metadata — and the BND is working hard to keep it that way. For example, during hearings before the Bundestag committee investigating the NSA affair, intelligence officials have consistently spoken about “routine traffic” whenever they have actually meant metadata. Given that the German word for “traffic” is the same as that for “intercourse,” this has sounded more like bad sex and has aimed to obscure the fact that hidden behind it was comprehensive, groundless and massive surveillance.

What’s more, the officials have argued that they are permitted to vacuum up this kind of routine traffic all over the world without any restrictions and to use it as they see fit. However, Peter Schaar doesn’t share this view at all. Instead, the German government’s former commissioner for data protection and freedom of information believes that metadata should also be protected by the basic right of privacy of correspondence, posts and telecommunications guaranteed by Article 10 of Germany’s Basic Law.

This long and interesting report is important for the insight it gives us about what the BND is up to — despite Germany’s stringent laws — as well as the news that the German intelligence service passes 500 million pieces of metadata to the NSA every month. General Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and the CIA, famously said: “We kill people based on metadata.” That means privacy-loving Germany could be implicated in some of those deaths. And there’s another aspect to the story worth noting. Nowhere does Die Zeit say that this information comes from Edward Snowden. Once again, it looks as if his example is inspiring others to shine a little light on the murky world of surveillance.

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

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Comments on “Germany's Spies Store 11 Billion Pieces Of Phone Metadata A Year — And Pass On 6 Billion To The NSA”

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23 Comments
Anon E. Moussays:

Another day a different government using it’s spy agency to spy on foreign and domestic communications.

With all revelations lately of what different governments around the world are doing to spy on citizens and non citizens of their respective countries, I would be of the belief that you may as well assume that where ever you go, count on any form of communication you use to be hoovered up in said countries dragnet.

While I am sure they will say they are only looking to scoop up conversation of bad entities there is no way they can nor would they want to filter out communications of little billy and grandma discussing what he wants for his birthday.

While I am sure said government will state they have no interest in those types of conversations, they aren’t saying they won’t be grabbing them either.

It’s just amazing now how the privacy we all thought we once had is almost non existent now, and these revelations just bring forward how much our right to privacy has been eroded and how the governments employing these methods will fight to keep their citizens from knowing the truth.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

Stasi was in the DDR which was “russian”. Besides they were small compared to the NSA.

https://apps.opendatacity.de/stasi-vs-nsa/english.html

The BND is just jealous of the NSA and uses their methods to try to keep up. How would you feel if you are a spy agency and cant play the information trading game because you aren’t allowed to collect stuff?

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

The “free” nations

Power corrupts
Absolute power corrupts absolutely

In a history filled with officially confirmed false flags durring the world wars, i worry that with this new authority given to them, by themselves, surveilance/terrorism, i worry that IF false flags are still a tool today, as they were back then……then i fear the kind of power, i fear due to the nature of the action, just where are we heading………i know one thing for sure will suffer, makes me really appreciate the saying “give me liberty or give me death”………the goal should be to abolish social classes, not reinforce them, we should strive for a future were our goal is to become equal, not a goal of monarchies and empires, which are the basis of what we have today, we have a bad foundation problem, and a bad history repeating itself problem

Until i see THESE kinda issues being identified, discussed and understood by 100% of any representaion, a worthwile continous effort to take these VERY serious issues into account when imposing on others that is not yourself, then at the bare minimum, i cant back that

I dont WANT a revolution because i care not to risk other individuals in what may, may not happen, whichever side starts it, but something akin to revolution in my mind needs to happen in many western government, that would be an internal MASSIVE MASSIVE restruction, the kinda were 99% of the population thinks “i cant believe they seem to be actually trying this time”…………you know, a world were individual right actually means something, something worth representing for….and hopefully something instinctual to future and ENTIRE generations………..our idealogies have been stagnating for far to long………i dont think the most perfect wonderful utopia awaits those generations, but i do think there are many more levels alot closer to utopia then what we have today, we have some good things………but its how i fear these bad things will continue to perpetually keep stagnant at the level we are today……..

Zonkersays:

For example, during hearings before the Bundestag committee investigating the NSA affair, intelligence officials have consistently spoken about “routine traffic” whenever they have actually meant metadata. Given that the German word for “traffic” is the same as that for “intercourse,” this has sounded more like bad sex and has aimed to obscure the fact that hidden behind it was comprehensive, groundless and massive surveillance.

I, for one, do not want my personal “routine intercourse” monitored by any government.

Anonymoussays:

There is more

The BND is allowed to take 20% of the all the traffic in Germany but only from foreigners. To do this they listen at the DE-CIX (largest internet exchange point in the world) in a way that if f.e. there are 10 cables they take 100% of 2 of those. But those 2 cables also transport traffic from germans which they are not allowed to take. That means they are breaking the law by design. The BND stated that they needed new laws so that this pratice is covered although it isn’t illegal from their point of view because filters and all.

This was mentioned in the NSA committee if you want to look it up.

I get Godwin’s law but in this meta data example it isn’t Germany that is doing the killing, that is the USA. But on the other hand the USA is using the term “race” so maybe the Hitler analogy isn’t that far off.

That One Guysays:

Re: Re: There is more

The BND stated that they needed new laws so that this pratice is covered although it isn’t illegal from their point of view because filters and all.

Gotta love how blatant they are in admitting that as it stands now they’re breaking the law, and know it. If what they are doing was already legal and within the law, they they wouldn’t need to change a thing, the fact that they admit that they need new laws to cover their actions makes it abundantly clear that, despite their claims to the contrary, even they know that their actions are currently illegal.

GEMontsays:

The Future

Hmmmmm…. I wonder.

The Five Eyes is basically a gang of White, English Speaking Countries, who spy on and share data about the whole world’s civilian population, but Germany and France can also be considered White, albeit not English Speaking, and it is apparent that they too share stolen data about the world’s population with the members of the Five Eyes.

I wonder if there is an affiliate organization – something like the 5 Ears or Fingers – composed of White, Non-English speaking countries like France and Germany.

If I was a Non-White, Non-English speaking country, I’d be a little concerned about this White Guy Coalition and its agenda.

Perhaps the Octopus that the US spies use as their logo represents something far more sinister than even the comic book version of that logo claimed.

Could all or most of the current White-Guy governments have followed along the same lines as the USA after 9/11, and declared secret war on their populations…. so that those in power might finally reinstate a global feudal government and prevent the public from realizing that government as an institution is obsolete and un-necessary and a dangerous thing to entertain.

Most self aware critters and organizations will fight tooth and nail to avoid extinction.

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