Germany’s foreign intelligence service used a key National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program, according to a report published by Der Spiegel over the weekend.
The report alleges that the BND and Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, used the NSA program.
The program, called XKeyScore is apparently meant to expand Germany’s ability to support the NSA and jointly prosecute counterterrorism targets.
The German news outlet cited a 2008 NSA presentation, which described the program as an effective tool for espionage. It apparently gathers metadata and is able to retroactively reveal any terms a target has previously typed into a search engine online.
The program is apparently also capable of receiving all unfiltered data a target has accessed over a span of several days. That data includes, in part, the content of some communications, according to NBC News.
Beyond Germany’s alleged use of NSA surveillance tools, Der Spiegel also asserts that the documents show that cooperation between the countries’ intelligence agencies has intensified recently.
The NSA apparently noted in January, “The BND has been working to influence the German government to relax interpretation of the privacy laws to provide greater opportunities of intelligence sharing.”
The NSA has been under fire since former contractor Edward Snowden released a series of documents showing widespread surveillance of the US government on its own citizens. But this is the first time the NSA programs have been linked with a different country.
The document obtained by Der Spiegel allegedly goes on to say that The BND has been the NSA’s “most prolific partner” in Afghanistan when it came to gathering intelligence. A 12-member team from the BND was also invited to the NSA just weeks before Snowden leaked the first documents. The subject of their meeting was “data acquisition.”
While the report alleges that Germany used NSA programs to gather information on its citizens, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has asserted that the country is not a “surveillance state.” She has also pushed back on questions on whether Germany engages in the same broad sweeping intelligence programs the NSA does with Americans.
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