NSA taps half-billion German phone, data links per month: report

By Kristen Butler, UPI.com  |  June 30, 2013 at 8:33 AM
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German newsmagazine Der Spiegel has published two reports on the extent of U.S. surveillance targeting Germany and the European Union based on documents from National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward Snowden.

The NSA allegedly monitored about 20 million German phone calls and 10 million internet connections on an average day, and up to 60 million phone calls on busy days, totaling a half-billion monitored communications in a month, according to the latest report.

The document reportedly showed that Germany was categorized as a "third-class" partner, similar to China or Iraq. Der Spiegel quoted the NSA document, saying "We can attack the signals of most foreign third-class partners, and we do it, too."

Though it was known the U.S. monitored communications in Germany, it was previously unknown that surveillance in Germany was stronger than in any other EU country. In France, the NSA reportedly only monitored about 2 million connections per day.

Only Canada, Australia, Britain and New Zealand were exempted from surveillance under the controversial programs -- Prism in the U.S. and Tempora in Britain.

On Saturday, the magazine published a separate report on a September 2010 classified document from Snowden detailing the NSA’s surveillance of EU offices in Washington, D.C. and at the United Nations.

The document referred to the EU as a "target" and the report suggests that surveillance included installing bugs in the EU building in downtown Washington, D.C., and their computer network was also infiltrated, allowing the U.S. to access discussions in EU rooms as well as emails and internal documents on computers.

The report also claims NSA surveillance extended to Justus Lipsius building in Brussels, the office for the European Council.

"On behalf of the European Parliament, I demand full clarification and require further information speedily from the U.S. authorities with regard to these allegations," President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz said in a statement.

Schultz said that if true, the report would have a "severe impact" on U.S.-EU relations.

News of the U.S. and British surveillance programs has outraged Germans, among whom government monitoring is highly unpopular. Germany has one of the strongest Pirate Parties in Europe -- a political party with a platform that includes information privacy, transparency and freedom of information.

In the 2009 German federal election, the Pirate Party received 845,904 votes, or two percent, and did not gain the five percent required for national seats. By 2011, the German Pirate Party won 8.9 percent of votes in the Berlin state election, securing 15 seats in state parliament. In 2012 they won 20 seats in the North Rhine-Westphalia state parliament.

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