• 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
Germany says 'won't let anyone take Europe from us'
Steinmeier called the European Union “a successful project of peace and stability”. Photo: DPA

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Saturday that the EU would weather the shock of the British vote to leave the union as he convened crisis talks.

Brexit vote
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
A sign in Berlin's tech giant and startup-building company Rocket Internet. Photo: DPA.

London is currently thought of as the main hub for startups in Europe, but that will all turn around when the UK leaves the EU, tech industry experts say.

Brexit vote - Analysis
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
British Leave campaigners celebrate Brexit result. Photo: DPA

Britain leaving the EU means trouble ahead for Germany - and its hardest task will be convincing the Brits to drop a self-defeating ideology, a leading foreign policy expert told The Local.

How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Photo: DPA.

Considering a change of passport after the UK's vote to ditch the EU? Here’s how to do it.

Germany makes fracking verboten
A sign in North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA.

German lawmakers approved a law that essentially bans fracking, ending years of dispute over the controversial technology to release oil and gas locked deep underground.

Brexit vote
German far right 'cries for joy' after UK votes to leave EU
Left to right: AfD's Beatrix von Storch and Frauke Petry. Photo: DPA

The far-right AfD party called for a "new Europe" and the resignation of the EU's top two politicians in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Brexit vote
Merkel: Brexit has cut into European unity
Angela Merkel at a press conference after the Brexit vote on Friday. Photo: DPA.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that the UK's decision to leave the EU has created a "cut in Europe" and the project of European unity.

Couple copulating on bridge shut down Autobahn
Kaiserlei Bridge in Frankfurt. Photo: Dontworry / Wikimedia Commons.

It was a highly unusual choice of location for a romantic rendezvous, police in Frankfurt point out.

Brexit vote
Germany: Brexit vote is a 'sad day for Europe'
A British flag along with other flags of European Union member countries flies in front of the European Council building in Strasbourg, France. Photo: EPA.

Top German leaders declared that it was a "sad day for Europe" after British voters opted to leave the European Union.

Viernheim hostage-taker wasn't carrying lethal weapon
A police officer stands guard in front of the cinema in Viernheim. Photo: DPA

The 19-year-old German man who took over a dozen people hostage in a cinema in western Germany on Thursday was carrying replica weapons, prosecutors have confirmed.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
US expats: Taxes are due June 15th
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Gallery
7 photos which show the aftermath of Bavaria's Autobahn bridge collapse
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
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
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Sport
How to sound like an expert on German football this summer
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
Features
6 reasons Germany's summer is unbeatable for thrill-seekers
National
The future belongs to these 10 German regions
Society
How pictures of footballers on chocolates made Pegida really mad
Health
New father's tragic herpes warning touches 1000s online
National
Bayer's Monsanto takeover would be 'diabolical': environmentalists
7,900
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd