German Spies Illegally Obtained Data and Must Delete XKeyscore Database, Report Said

Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the German Intelligence Service, illegally collected and stored mass surveillance data and has to delete that data immediately, including XKeyscore (XKS), a formerly secret computer system first used by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) for searching and analyzing global Internet data, which it collects on a daily basis. In a classified report of the German Federal Data Protection Commissioner, the BND is found to have violated a number of legal regulations and restriction of the Commissioner’s supervisor authority.

9402883652_f45d6f9734_hAndrew Voßhoff, the new Protection Commissioner, did not back off when Edward Snowden exposed the global system of mass surveillance by secret services three years ago like other German government agencies did. Instead, he produced a legal analysis of the findings and sent it to the Federal Intelligence Service coordinator in the German Chancellery and former BND president Gerhard Schindler.

The report was, and still is, classified as “secret” but has been obtained by the media. Concerns are raised on how extensive and serious the BND’s violations are.

One of the seven databases that the BND illegally access is the notorious NSA tool XKeyscore which “scans…the entire internet traffic worldwide, i.e. all meta and content data contained in internet traffic, and saves selected internet traffic data (e-mails, chats, content from public social media, media, as well as non-public – i.e. not visible to the normal user – messages in web forums, etc.) and hence all persons appearing in this internet traffic (sender, receiver, web forum member, member of social networks, etc.)”, said the report.

“On 60 pages, the highest German Data Protection Commissioner lists 18 severe legal violations and files 12 formal complaints. Such a complaint under the German Data Protection Act is the Commissioner’s most severe legal instrument – forcing the authorities to issue a statement in response. This is the first time that a German authority has received this many complaints at once. Usually, the Commissioner files a similar amount of complaints in an entire year – to all federal authorities combined.” as is translated from German to English by NetPolitik.

Zeit Magazine, a Germany-based media publication, reported that “In the BND stations located in Schöningen, Rheinhausen, Bad Aibling and Gablingen, metadata from all over the world converge, about 220 million data points every single day.”

Analysts said that the BND has been storing all metadata of entire communication lines for three months. This metadata is not from terrorists but from “bystanders or irreproachable people“ and is “Intentional and on a large scale”, which means that the BND violates the German BND law and constitution.

Maybe it’s a good time to get a VPN if you live in Germany.

Reina Ho

Reina Ho is a freelance reporter who focuses on censorship and information control in online space.

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