• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

BND collects 220 million phone records a day

The Local · 30 Jan 2015, 14:12

Published: 30 Jan 2015 14:12 GMT+01:00

According to BND documents seen by journalists, five locations around Germany are used to collect the millions of so-called 'metadata' about foreigners' phone calls.

It is not yet clear where the BND obtains this much data.

But the parliamentary committee at the Bundestag (German parliament) investigating surveillance by the US National Security Agency (NSA) has established that the BND taps satellite communications and internet cables.

One percent of the foreign phone call data is archived within Germany for later analysis over the long term – although most is deleted after a few weeks at most.

That telephone data archive accepts “around 11 billion new entries per year”, Zeit reported.

Government sources would not confirm or deny whether the BND's metadata archive has been reported to the government's Data Protection Commissioner, as is required by law.

But the spies have kept other databases secret for years without fulfilling their legal obligation to report them in the past.

And the classified files seen by Zeit journalists include instructions to agents that they should only inform the parliamentary Oversight Committee about how much data they were gathering if asked highly targeted questions.

“Apparently the intelligence services don't trust parliamentarians,” former Free Democratic Party (FDP) MP Gisela Piltz told Zeit.

She said of her time on the Oversight Committee that “it was always difficult to get comprehensive information.

“You can only ask about concrete methods when you already know something about them.”

The BND has been steadily stepping up its surveillance activities, and in November it emerged that it had asked the Bundestag for €300 million between 2015 and 2020 for its so-called “Strategic Technical Initiative” to suck up and analyse even more information.

Metadata do not include the content of phone calls, but information such as the time of a call, who was speaking to whom, the location the call was made from and other facts.

The fact that the content of the calls and messages themselves are not collected has been used by spies to argue that gathering metadata does not constitute surveillance.

BND agents questioned by the NSA Committee at the Bundestag have referred to metadata as “routine traffic” in a bid to make them sound harmless.

Story continues below…

But over time, this information about a person under surveillance's movements, routine and contacts can be used to build up a picture of their life which can be used to predict their future actions.

That's why the data are so prized by intelligence agencies, including the American NSA, which uses them to predict where they should make drone strikes against suspected terrorists.

A BND agent questioned by the NSA Committee in November told the MPs that the BND sends around 500 million metadata records per month to the NSA from a single programme spying on satellite communications.

SEE ALSO: BND to hire hackers to check shopping carts

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

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Garbageman catches child falling from 2nd floor window
Bogdan W. (r) with four-year-old Eden. Photo: DPA

A young boy had a miraculous rescue in western Germany on Wednesday when a bin man happened to see him hanging from the window ledge and managed to catch him just in time.

Church hides refugees from state in Bavarian beauty spot
The view near Tutzing on Lake Starnberg. Photo: DPA

The Catholic Church in southern Bavaria is offering religious asylum to refugees who fled Isis, and who the state now wants to deport.

German firm fights years-long battle to crack Rubik's Cube
Photo: DPA

A German toy manufacturer is nearing success in its long battle to be able to make a Rubik's Cube all of its own.

The Local List
13 (even more) thrilling facts you must know about Berlin
Berlin, du bist so wunderbar. Photo: DPA.

Berlin is just so gosh darn interesting, we couldn't fit it all into the first list on our website of infinite virtual space.

1000s of smashed beer bottles bring Autobahn to standstill
The clean up near Bayreuth. Photo: DPA

The main road artery between Munich and Berlin was completely shut down on Tuesday evening after a truck driver committed a cardinal sin.

Far-right leader Petry under investigation for perjury
Frauke Petry. Photo: DPA

Her right wing populist party’s electoral successes have struck the fear of God into the political mainstream. But Frauke Petry is now under investigation in Dresden for perjury.

We'll crush German airlines, boasts Ryanair boss
Michael O’Leary. Photo: DPA

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has told a German newspaper that German rivals Air Berlin and Eurowings are doomed.

All aboard the €3,000 train ride from Berlin to London
Hercule Poirot on the Orient Express. Photo: Arte/DPA

One imagines that there is more than one Londoner who has moved to Germany in pursuit of Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin. Now they have the chance to travel like him, too.

Adidas to bring production home with robot shoe factory
File photo: DPA

Adidas, the German maker of sportswear and equipment, announced Tuesday that it will start marketing its first series of sportshoes manufactured by robots in Germany from 2017.

Passersby spur on mob as they attack refugees
File Photo: DPA

When four refugees were attacked near a tram stop in a town on the German-Polish border on Monday evening, pedestrians egged on their assailants.

Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that will stay with you forever
Technology
Church plans to connect with faithful at Wi-Fi 'Godspots'
Technology
Online hate speech can cost users thousands of Euros
Society
Bavarians in rush for non-lethal weapons licenses
Sport
Here's Germany's Mannschaft for Euro 2016
Culture
The Syrian pianist playing his way into Germans' hearts
The parrot who flew fast enough to trigger a speed camera
Business & Money
Surprise results give Germany strongest growth in two years
Technology
New law could let free Wi-Fi bloom across Germany
Politics
Berlin's plans to beef up the German army
Munich
The bloody knife attack that shocked a Bavarian town
National
Supermarkets must pay massive fine for fixing beer prices
Sport
Lufthansa's Euro 2016 ad takes aim at England
Culture
The 6 German words you need to know for spring
Culture
6 weird and wonderful ways Germans celebrate May 1st
Gallery
Feast your eyes on Germany in springtime bloom
National
4/20: Five things to know about weed in Germany
Berlin
Police break up hipster swarm at vegan restaurant opening
Politics
Merkel allows Erdogan case against German satirist to go ahead
Travel
7 of Germany's most jaw-dropping national parks
7,775
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd