Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Germany most-spied-on EU country by US - leaked NSA report

The color-coded map of secret surveillance activities by the NSA ranks countries according to how much surveillance they are currently undergoing - green for the least and red for the most watched. Germany appears to be the most snooped on EU country by the US, the map of secret surveillance activities by the National Security Agency shows. ‘Boundless Informant’ is among the data disclosed by former CIA contractor and NSA consultant Edward Snowden.

While all EU member states boast variant shades of green, Germany stands out color-coded orange.

The source behind the revelation of the top-secret NSA surveillance program, already referred to as one of the most significant intelligence leaks in US history, was uncovered late last week. 29-year-old Snowden asked The Guardian to reveal his identity, having fled to Hong Kong to escape retaliation by the US authorities.

"The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting,” he told The Guardian.

I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authority to wire-tap anyone … even if you are not doing anything wrong, you are being watched and recorded, he added.

The Boundless Informant documents show NSA collecting up to 3 billion pieces of intelligence from US computer networks over a 30-day period ending in March 2013, according to The Guardian. The tool reportedly allows users to select a country on a map, view the metadata volume and select details about the collections against this or that state.

Germany's Interior Ministry had already been in contact with US officials to find out whether there had been any infringement of German citizens' privacy lately. Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to raise the issue of the NSA's eavesdropping on Germany with President Barack Obama, who said the monitoring program is a means of defense against terrorism. 
Iran is on top of the surveillance list, with more than 14 billion data reports in March, while Pakistan came in a close second at 13.5 billion reports. Jordan, a close US ally, as well as Egypt and India are also near the top, according to the data.
Senior European Union officials are also expected to discuss the impact of NSA’s programs on the privacy of EU citizens during a trans-Atlantic ministerial meeting in Dublin on Thursday.

"This case shows that a clear legal framework for the protection of personal data is not a luxury or constraint, but a fundamental right," European Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding said.

The European Parliament said it is always firm on data protection within the EU, as well as when negotiating with third countries, including the US.

"It would be unacceptable and would need swift action from the EU if indeed the US National Security Agency were processing European data without permission," Guy Verhofstadt of the parliament's liberal bloc said.

NSA's tradition to survey international communities reportedly goes back to the Cold War era, when the agency used monitoring sites in Germany, Britain and other countries to spy on communications within the Soviet Union and its East European allies.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has meanwhile cancelled his trip to Washington to speak about The Guardian’s latest NSA report.

He assured parliament that accusations that the UK government allegedly used information provided by the Americans to circumvent laws were "baseless."

"Our agencies practice and uphold UK law at all times,"
 he stated, "even when dealing with information from outside the UK."

In an interview with the British newspaper, successful NSA consultant Snowden leaked top-secret documents that revealed the existence of the US National Security Agency’s extensive internet spying program PRISM, which records digital communications and allows for real-time online surveillance of US citizens. PRISM gives US intelligence agencies direct access to files stored on the servers of major internet companies, including Google and Facebook, to identify and target potential terror suspects.