• 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
The Local List
The 10 worst German cities for students to find digs
Photo: DPA

It's the start of autumn, which means the start of the university year. But along with the excitement comes the stress of finding housing - and in some glamorous locations this can be a nightmare.

German broadcaster sues Turkey over confiscated video
Akif Cagatay Kilic. Photo: DPA

German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle said Monday it had filed a civil complaint after a Turkish minister's office confiscated a taped video interview with him.

Germany's 'James Bond' goes on trial over tax evasion
Werner Mauss. Photo: DPA.

Germany's former top spy, Werner Mauss, went on trial on Monday accused of hiding millions of euros from authorities.

Germany holds first national 'mermaiding' championship
Photo: DPA

Ariel would be proud.

Gallery
15 pics that prove Germany is totally enchanting in autumn
The Max-Eyth-See in Stuttgart. Photo: DPA.

As summer fades into a distant memory and you start to begrudge trading Birkenstocks for boots, these pictures may help change your perspective on the new chill in the air.

Left politician who smuggled refugee could lose immunity
Diether Dehm. Photo: DPA.

Die Linke (Left Party) politician Diether Dehm could lose his immunity as an elected official after he admitted to smuggling a refugee into Germany.

Merkel party leader admits sexism is a problem
Jenna Behrends complained that a member of CDU's Berlin government had called her a "big sweet mouse" in front of a large group. Photo: Sophia Kembowski/dpa

A leader of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party admitted Sunday that it has a problem with sexism in its ranks.

Ethiopia's Bekele nears record in Berlin marathon win
Participants in the Berlin marathon take to the streets on Sunday. Photo:Paul Zinken/dpa

Kenenisa Bekele narrowly missed out on the world record on Sunday as the Ethiopian won the Berlin marathon ahead of former winner Wilson Kipsang.

Europe needs deals to send migrants home: Merkel
Angela Merkal poses with Bulgaria's Prime minister Boyko Borissov (L) and Austrian chancellor Christian Kern (R) in Vienna. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP

Europe needs to secure more deals to send rejected migrants home, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told counterparts in Vienna.

Germany sees 'turning point' in birth rate decline
Children at a a kindergarten in Swabia. Photo: Nikolaus Lenau/Flickr

Is Germany's three-decade decline in birth rate now over?

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
6,580
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd