Why Germany is restricting online surveillance as the UK tries to step it up

Bethan McKernan@mck_beth
Wednesday 18 November 2015 10:50
Science and Tech

German intelligence agency the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) will no longer be allowed to spy on EU citizens or institutions thanks to security law reforms in the country.

Earlier this year chancellor Angela Merkel was embarrassed by revelations that the BND was spying on EU governments, including Polish, Austrian and Danish cabinet members, diplomatic missions at UN outposts, the Vatican, and several NGOs including Oxfam and the Red Cross.

It also emerged that the agency was helping the American National Security Agency (NSA) spy on EU countries, including individual politicians.

German citizens are already protected by law from the mass-surveillance of civilians previously practised by the NSA and proposed by the government's so-called 'Snooper's Charter'. The German reforms will mean that other EU citizens are afforded the same protections as Germans, and telephone and computer tracking will only be allowed in incidences of terrorism or organised crime.

The BND will also be subject to spot checks and under the jurisdiction of a new office that reports directly to the German parliament.

Social Democratic Party politician Burkhard Lischka told Inforadio news:

The important thing is that [the reform] will finally make the chancellor's phrase 'Spying between friends, that's just not done,' a reality.

Merkel made the infamous comment in October 2013, after Edward Snowden's NSA whistleblowing bought to light that her own private calls had been tapped by the US.

HT Ars Technica

More: There's a potentially very easy way to get around the proposed Snooper's Charter measures

More: Theresa May told people that taking their metadata was fine, so someone has requested hers

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