• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

BND spied on Germans living abroad

DPA/The Local · 28 Nov 2014, 11:40

Published: 28 Nov 2014 11:40 GMT+01:00

Dr Stefan Burbaum, who worked at the BND from 2000 to 2005, said that some Germans were targeted as “office holders”, a legal loophole the spies used to circumvent the law that protects Germans citizens from being spied on by its own intelligence agency.

Normally, the intelligence agencies must overcome high legal hurdles laid out in the so-called “G10 law” to spy on German citizens, including when they live abroad.

Otherwise, information regarding German citizens has to be filtered out from any foreign communications intercepted by the BND.

But the German spies argue that a citizen working for a foreign company abroad is only protected in his private life, not in his professional communications, Burbaum told the Bundestag inquiry committee into National Security Agency (NSA) mass spying.

"The office holder is the legal person," Burbaum said. "It's a small exception. But a German citizen can function as an office holder in a foreign organization.

"The decisive thing is whether he's communicating as a citizen or as an office holder."

“This construct of an office holder is just as absurd in practice as it appears in the law,” Konstantin von Notz of the Green party said.

Further, foreigners' communications conducted abroad are not protected, even if they are in contact with German people or work for a German company.

MPs from the Social Democratic (SPD), Green and Left (Linke) parties all criticized the BND's ability to operate in a “lawless zone” when it came to spying on foreigners.

Under the “G10 Law” the BND is also allowed access to data from German telecoms firms to search for specifically identified suspicious traffic.

But Burbaum told the MPs that the BND regularly retains traffic which it had not received specific permission to investigate which it collects during such trawls.

In this way, access acquired under the “G10 law” becomes a “foot in the door” to otherwise closed-off sources of data, Burbaum said.

Don't spy on us

Angela Merkel shows off a German government-issue secure Blackberry smartphone. Photo: DPA" />

Meanwhile, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Thursday that the federal government signed a “no-spying contract” with Canadian smartphone makers Blackberry.

German authorities will be able to audit the technology company's software following an announcement in the summer that it will buy Secusmart, the firm which supplies the government – including Chancellor Angela Merkel - with secure mobile phones.

Secusmart and Deutsche Telekom currently have a contract to provide as many as 10,000 secure phones to the government.

The Blackberry deal had until now been blocked by the Ministry of the Economy, who said it might endanger national security.

Revelations by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden showed that American and British spy agencies the National Security Agency (NSA) and GCHQ regularly force technology companies to grant them access to customers' data.

Under the contract, Blackberry will be forced to reveal to the German government whether it is under any legal or other obligation to provide data or access to foreign intelligence services.

The German Office of Security in Information Technology will also be able to check the source code – a closely-guarded trade secret – of Blackberry's mobile phone software to make sure that it contains no hidden back doors that could be used by foreign spies.

SEE ALSO: BND to hire hackers to check your shopping carts

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Munich shooting
 Social media a blessing and a curse in Munich shooting
The Munich gunman may have hacked a Facebook account to lure some of the victims to the McDonald's fast-food outlet where the shooting began. Photo: DPA

Social networks were both a curse and a blessing in the deadly shopping mall shooting in Munich, as police sometimes found themselves chasing fictitious leads and false alarms.

Munich shooting
Munich pulls together after shopping mall shooting
Photo: DPA

In the chaos after the Munich mall shooting, city residents spontaneously offered shelter to strangers - a move that Chancellor Angela Merkel said showed that Germany's strength lies in its values.

Munich shooting
Merkel deplores 'night of horror' in Munich
Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday said Munich had suffered a "night of horror" after a shooting spree in the southern German city left nine people dead.

Munich shooting
Munich attacker was shy video game fan
People laying flowers at the site of the shootings. Photo: DPA.

David Ali Sonboly was a quiet, helpful teenager who loved playing video games. His neighbours say there were no warning signs before his deadly rampage at a Munich shopping mall.

Munich shooting
Munich gunman inspired by rightwing Breivik: police
Photo: DPA

The lone teenager who shot dead nine people in a gun rampage in Munich was "obsessed" with mass killers such as Norwegian rightwing fanatic Anders Behring Breivik and had no links to the Islamic State group, police said Saturday.

Munich shooting
Turks, Kosovans and a Greek among shooting victims
Photo: DPA

Three Turkish citizens were among the nine people killed in Germany's Munich mall shooting. Three Kosovans were also among the nine victims.

Munich shooting
Munich gunman was likely not Isis terrorist: police
Flowers laid at the Olympia Shopping Centre underground station. Photo: DPA

According to initial investigations by Munich police, the young man who went on a shooting rampage in Munich on Friday evening was a lone gunman without motive, not a terrorist.

Munich shooting
'Lone' Munich shooter kills nine, commits suicide
Photo: DPA

A teenage German-Iranian gunman who killed nine people in a shooting spree at a busy Munich shopping centre and then committed suicide had likely acted alone, German police said Saturday.

As it happened
Nine dead in shooting rampage in Munich
File photo: DPA

Nine people are dead after "at least one person" went on a shooting spree in a Munich shopping centre on Friday evening. An attacker is believed to be among the dead.

German Turkish community split by unrest after coup plot
Pro-Erdogan protesters in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Hatred between supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and those opposed to him has exploded on social media in Germany in the wake of a failed coup attempt last Friday.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Analysis & Opinion
Nice was an attack on France, not on Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
10,713
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd