Spying now turning out to be a pattern across all nations, especially in the West and Europe, it is now being reported that the German Foreign Intelligence Agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), is spying on phones calls and text messages, reportedly collecting over 220 million records daily.
The German’s have not been left behind in the race to spy on people for no apparent reason, and without the legal mandate to do so. This follows in the footsteps of the UK, US and Canada which each have a system spying on people.
According to the reports, the Germans are taking particular interest in the phone communication rather than emails and downloads as is the case with Americans and Canadians respectively.
One would argue that the snooping on telephone communication is more invasive than snooping on email communication because the phone tends to be the most personal communication gadget.
It has been reported that the German authorities collect the data by tapping into internet cables and even intercepting satellite communication.
Apparently, the German authorities are of the opinion that since they are not listening in on the conversation but rather are concerned with the location, time and frequency of phone calls and text messages, they are not violating anyone’s privacy.
The BND is also quick to add that although it apparently collects huge amounts of data daily, it does not store all of it. It is being reported that only about 1% of all the data collected is archived for further analysis. While this might seem like a small percentage, the fact that the collection of the data was not authorized by the subjects makes it highly controversial.
It has also been revealed that the BND is very coy with the details of what they do. When they can, they withhold information on their activities. A former member of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee Gisela Piltz has been quoted complaining “You can only ask about concrete methods when you already know something about them. Apparently the intelligence services don’t trust parliamentarians.”
The reluctance to reveal what the agency is up to is not only worrying, it stops just shy of showing that the BND is engaging in unlawful behavior. Unlike the US which has an amorphous law called the Patriot Act under which almost anything can be justified, Germany does not have a blanket law under which the BND can justify its actions.
One the surface such an argument might make sense but a deeper analysis will reveal that by following the location, time and frequency of texts or calls, one can create a pattern to tell where a person is at a particular time. More worrying is the fact that the metadata can be used to predict to an astounding accuracy where person will be at a given time. To illustrate this danger, consider that American Michael Hayden who has headed the NSA and the CIA said that metadata has been used by American forces to trace and kill people.