German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger reacted with shock on Saturday to revelations by British newspaper The Guardian, that the UK spy agency GCHQ had been gathering even more communications data than the Americans.
The paper published further material from whistle-blower Edward Snowden on Friday suggesting that GCHQ tapped fibre-optic cables on British soil carrying email messages, Facebook posts, internet histories and calls, and shared this data with the US.
"If the allegations are true, it would be a catastrophe," said Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger and demanded that European institutions immediately look into the matter of British spying.
Yet while concern in Germany over recent revelations showing the extent and scope of US and British online snooping capabilities has been widespread, most people do not see themselves as targets, a survey by YouGov public opinion pollsters said on Saturday.
Over 70 percent of German participants in the online survey said they believed the NSA had accessed telephone and internet data in Germany, yet just 30 percent believed their own communications data had been seen by employees of the recently-uncovered US secret service Prism program.
Only nine percent thought it very probable that the Americans had been spying on them and 21 percent fairly probable, said YouGov.
Meanwhile, just under a third (32 percent) of participants believed that recent revelations by the whistle-blower Edward Snowden exposing global surveillance strategies would have an effect on their own private sphere.
Fifty-eight percent said they thought Germany as a nation would feel the consequences of the revelations, which 70 percent believed would be negative.