• Germany's news in English

Berlin agrees plan to control German spooks

DPA/The Local · 13 Nov 2015, 09:15

Published: 13 Nov 2015 09:15 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Relevant politicians within the conservative Union alliance and the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) told broadcaster RBB on Friday that the two parties to the coalition had agreed to the change to the law.

The new law will apply to the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany's external intelligence agency, making it illegal for it to spy on other members of the 28-member European Union or to engage in economic espionage of any form.

According to the authors of the law, the reforms will also increase parliamentary oversight of the spy agency.

A further point of the new law is the position of "intelligence commissioner" - a parliamentarian with special access to the operations of the security services.

"It's important that we finally make the Chancellor's statement that 'spying between friends isn't on' a reality,“ Burkhard Lischka (SPD), who was involved in drafting the law, told RBB. "That requires a clear legal boundary that we are about to achieve.“

Up until at least October 2013, the BND spied on other members of the European Union, it emerged this week.

Targets included the French foreign minister and even German diplomats.

The UN organization for children, Unicef, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Court of Justice in the Netherlands, were also all targeted, reported RBB.

Story continues below…

The new law would restrict the BND to spying on telecommunications only when there is a suspicion of terrorism, organized crime or a contravention of weapons embargoes.

It will not give special privileges to the US, but the reality that the BND could only pursue targets set by the government would in practice rule out spying on Washington.

The government expects the law to be voted on in the Bundestag (German parliament) next summer and to come into force in January 2017.

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

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
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