Just days after German politicians spoke out against the NSA PRISM program by the United States, a new report from Der Spiegel reveals that Germany has increased spying plans of its own and is getting ready to invest 100 million euro to monitor 20 percent of all communications between Germany and foreign countries.
As it stands right now, the German intelligence agency Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) monitors a total of 5 percent of all telephone and internet communications, but is legally allowed to intercept up to 20 percent. With the new investment, the BND plans to hire an additional 100 employees and upgrade their server capacity to maximize their communication spying so that they reach that 20 percent level.
The timing of the news probably isn’t the best, since the US government has been criticized by Germany for making the country one of the most spied on by the leaked PRISM program. Some even went as far as accusing the US government of practicing Stasi methods.
So what makes Germany’s surveillance program any better than the US? Supposedly the German program does not store all of the information it collects during the surveillance and instead only filters the information that may indicate terrorist activity. Germany’s Interior Minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, justified the country’s monitoring by telling Der Spiegel that intelligence agencies have to be present on the internet to balance out the loss of control that occurs as technology advances.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to confront President Barack Obama on the PRISM program when he visits Berlin on Tuesday, but with the details of Germany’s own foreign surveillance program coming out in the media, she may not have as much clout as she first intended.
The Obama administration has already taken a defensive stance against Germany’s anger over the NSA program, and claimed that Germany has been a staging area for terrorists, including some of the 9/11 hijackers. Ben Rhodes, a US deputy national security advisor, said in a statement that “We understand the significant German interest in privacy and civil liberties… ”I think our point is that this is focused very specifically on one goal, which is, you know, how do we disrupt terrorist activity, how do we mitigate security threats, both to us and to Germany.”