• Germany's news in English

'Brit brother' taps Germany-US data cable

The Local · 25 Jun 2013, 11:32

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

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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.

Story continues below…

"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)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Obama to visit Berlin in last presidential trip to Germany
President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel during a Berlin trip in 2013. Photo: DPA.

The White House announced on Tuesday that US President Barack Obama will be paying one last unexpected visit to the German capital - his last before he leaves office.

Hostility towards minorities 'widespread in Bavaria'
A village in southern Bavaria. Photo: DPA.

Hate and hostility towards groups deemed to be different are not just sentiments felt by fringe extremists, a new report on Bavaria shows.

Hated RB Leipzig emerge as shock challengers to Bayern
RB Leipzig. Photo: DPA

RB Leipzig's remarkable unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season has seen them suddenly emerge at the head of the pack chasing reigning champions and league leaders Bayern Munich.

Munich taxi driver in hospital after attack by British tourists
Photo: DPA

A taxi driver had to be hospitalized in Munich on Monday evening after three British tourists refused to pay their fare and then attacked him.

German police carry out nationwide anti-terror raids
Police outside a building in Jena during raids on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Police forces in five German states carried out raids on Tuesday morning with the aim of tackling the financing of terror groups, police in Thuringia have reported.

The Local List
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Photo: DPA

So you've mastered German, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

Iconic German church being eroded away by human urine
Ulm Minster towering over the rest Ulm surrounding the Danube. Photo: Pixabay

It will now cost you €100 to spend a penny. That’s if you get caught choosing to pee against the world-famous Ulm Minster.

German small arms ammo exports grow ten-fold
Photo: DPA

The government has come in for criticism after new figures revealed that Germany exported ten times the quantity of small arms ammunition in the first half of 2016 as in the same period last year.

14-year-old stabs 'creepy clown' in prank gone wrong
File photo: DPA.

A 16-year-old in Berlin decided he wanted to scare some friends, but his plot backfired in a violent way.

Four Ku Klux Klan groups active in Germany, says govt
An American member of the KKK at a gathering in Georgia. Photo: EPA.

The German government estimates that there are four Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups currently active in the country, according to a report by the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) on Tuesday.

Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd