NSA and CIA on Receiving End of Massive German Phone Spying Program

Friday, February 06, 2015
German intelligence chief Gerhard Schindler at NSA monitoring base in Germany, 2014 (photo: Christof Stache, AFP/Getty Images)

Germany’s foreign intelligence agency has been using its sophisticated electronic systems to collect 220 million bits of metadata a day from satellites and Internet sources and shares that information with U.S. intelligence agencies, according to Zeit Online. Once it crosses the Atlantic, the National Security Agency (NSA) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) use it for their own spying and anti-terrorism activities.


 “But the data aren’t just collected; they are also used to keep tabs on and track of suspects,” Kai Biermann wrote at Zeit Online.


Some of the metadata may be utilized by American operatives to assassinate individuals, Zeit Online says, based on what former NSA and CIA chief Michael Hayden said last year: “We kill people based on metadata.”


Classified documents from the German intelligence agency Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) revealed that the agency has five facilities it uses to collect the volumes of metadata. Four of them are in the German towns of Schöningen, Reinhausen, Bad Aibling, Gablingen, which store the information anywhere from a week to six months. A fifth agency office collects and stores 1% of the metadata for up to 10 years for long-term analysis.


Privacy group Access Now called on the BND to curtail its NSA-style “collect-it-all” program and pointed out that Germany is one of the most vocal international critics of NSA surveillance, according to The Register.


Like some U.S. data surveillance, the BND’s collection doesn’t involve the actual content of the communications, but records the phone numbers, length of communication and other information.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

BND Stores 220 Million Telephone Data – Every Day (by Kai Biermann, Zeit Online)

Germany’s BND Muscles in on Metadata Mass Surveillance (by John Leyden, The Register)

German Chancellor Confronts Obama over Alleged NSA Monitoring of Her Cell Phone (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)

German Spy Agency Supplies NSA with Daily Trove of Surveillance Data (by Danny Biederman and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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