Germany has halted its Internet surveillance for the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) in response to a row over the BND intelligence agency’s cooperation with Washington, German media reported on Thursday. Reuters have more:
Allegations that the BND has helped the NSA spy on European officials and firms has put strains on Angela Merkel’s governing coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) and could damage U.S. relations and even the conservative chancellor’s own popularity. An INSA poll on Wednesday showed that 62 percent of Germans think the BND row threatens Merkel’s credibility. Ultimate responsibility for the BND lies with her office.
The Sueddeutsche daily and WDR and NDR broadcasters reported that the BND’s station in Bad Aibling this week stopped sending the NSA information garnered from Internet surveillance. The step was taken after the NSA refused to provide clear justification of each request for surveillance of individuals or organizations, a condition agreed by the BND and chancellor’s office. The condition is already required for fax or phone surveillance.
The BND and German government declined to comment. Surveillance is a sensitive issue in Germany as a result of the extensive snooping by the Stasi secret police in Communist East Germany and by the Gestapo in the Nazi era.