• Germany edition
 
'Brit brother' taps Germany-US data cable
GCHQ headquarters in Cheltenham, UK. Photo: DPA

'Brit brother' taps Germany-US data cable

Published: 25 Jun 2013 11:32 GMT+02:00
Updated: 25 Jun 2013 11:32 GMT+02:00

The British secret service communications arm GCHQ is watching the TAT-14 fibre-optic internet cable which processes and transmits German users' internet and telephone data to the US via the UK, broadcaster NDR and the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The reports came as Germany was still reeling from last week's shock revelation by former CIA employee Edward Snowden of the existence and scope of Britain's 'Tempora' intelligence operation, with which GCHQ keeps tabs on European communications.

Documents shown by Snowden to British newspaper The Guardian revealed that GCHQ had secret access to more than 200 fibre optic cables across the world, including TAT-14, a 15,000 kilometre-long data highway which connects northern Europe to the US via Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, France and the UK.

The cable runs from Denmark to a German hub in Norden, East Friesland, before continuing along the seabed surfacing in Katwijk in the Netherlands and St. Valery in France and then crossing the channel.

It hits British soil in the coastal town of Bude-Haven on the south-western tip of Cornwall, where the paper said it was presumably accessed by GCHQ. From there, it crosses the Atlantic, surfacing in two towns in New Jersey, USA.

Snowden's revelations showed that British communications providers Vodafone and British Telecom (BT) were involved in helping with GCHQ's cable taps, which allowed the service to sift through vast amounts of communications data every day.

Vodafone issued a statement emphasising that companies must follow the laws of the country they operated in, but declined to give further details in the interests of “national security.” BT, meanwhile, has so far refused to comment, the paper said.

Both the German government and the German foreign intelligence service appear to have been completely ignorant of the British spying activities, which Snowden described as “worse” in scope than the recently-uncovered US “Prism” program.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government submitted a list of questions about Tempora to the British embassy in Berlin on Monday, with the aim of "clarifying what is occurring on what legal basis and the scope [of this]," said Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert.

Meanwhile, concern and outrage is growing in Germany as the implications of last week's revelations begin to sink in.

"Great Britain is the data leech of the European Union," Jörg-Uwe Hahn, Hessen's state justice minister told the Handelsblatt newspaper on Tuesday, and added that the revelations raised serious trust issues for the whole of Europe.

"Can we trust the British government for example with matters of trade that they won't deploy their spy network at the expense of their partners?" he asked.

The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Tanker fills up gas station with wrong fuel
Photo: DPA

Tanker fills up gas station with wrong fuel

Around 160 car owners are stuck after a gas station's storage tanks were filled with the wrong fuel, causing an estimated €100,000 in damage. READ  

Lufthansa strike hits 1,500 flights
Photo: DPA

Lufthansa strike hits 1,500 flights

UPDATE: In the second day of their strike, Lufthansa pilots have, as promised, extended their industrial action to include long-haul international flights until the end of Tuesday. READ  

Merkel tells allies to pay Ukraine's gas debts
Chancellor Angela Merkel in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Monday. Photo: DPA

Merkel tells allies to pay Ukraine's gas debts

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday called on Ukraine's allies to help the war-scarred nation pay off its gas debts to Russia, amid concern over gas supplies this winter. READ  

Steinmeier wants epidemic task force
Frank-Walter Steinmeier speaks at the World Health Summit in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Steinmeier wants epidemic task force

At the World Health Summit in Berlin, the Ebola crisis took centre stage at talks meant to create plans for how to handle future outbreaks. READ  

Nazi-stolen painting put on display, sort of
The Wiesbaden Museum in Hesse. Photo: DPA

Nazi-stolen painting put on display, sort of

The Wiesbaden Museum was once a collection house for art stolen from Jewish owners by the Nazi. With one painting, they hope to right at least one wrong while bringing awareness to its ongoing restitution work. READ  

JobTalk Germany
'It's only an internship if you're learning'

'It's only an internship if you're learning'

How long should an intern work for without being paid? At least eight months, according to a ruling by a court in western Germany last week. JobTalk looks at the warning signs for abusive internships. READ  

Single parents, common law families on rise
Photo: DPA

Single parents, common law families on rise

The German family structure is changing, with nearly a third of every family no longer living in the "classic model" and big differences in what family looks like in the former East and West, statistics agency Destatis announced on Monday. READ  

Four arrested in raids against Isis
Photo: DPA

Four arrested in raids against Isis

Police raided 15 homes across Germany over the weekend and arrested four suspected supporters of the Islamic State (Isis). They are alleged to have smuggled a teenager and thousands of winter military clothes to the terrorist group's frontlines. READ  

Munich Refugee Crisis
'There's no room but we have nowhere else to go'
Hassan, pictured outside the Bayernkaserne with two of his children, arrived in Munich from Syria. Photo: Mariane Schroeder

'There's no room but we have nowhere else to go'

Around 300 refugees are arriving in Munich each day, but accommodation centres are full. With authorities struggling for answers, The Local meets those at the sharp end of the crisis. READ  

Train Strike
Buses up prices, football fans brawl, trains return
Photo: DPA

Buses up prices, football fans brawl, trains return

UPDATE: Deutsche Bahn trains are chugging along again after a 50-hour train strike cost the service "tens of millions" and brought travel headaches across the country, leaving millions of passengers struggling for transportation over the weekend as well as at least one mass brawl in its tracks. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Robbers blow up Berlin bank
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: Facebook
Society
German motorcycle gang joins Isis fight
Photo: DPA
Politics
UKIP ‘seeks EU pact’ with German satirical party
Photo: DPA
Travel
This is the man who has stopped Germany's trains
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
Expats: Should I stay or should I go?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: World's biggest erotic fair opens in Berlin
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
Which expat foods do you miss the most?
Sponsored Article
International School on the Rhine: a legacy
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The ten richest people in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,464
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd