Vague and contradictory arguments of the German Secret Service and the Federal Government.
That the German Bundesnachrichtendienst (Federal Intelligence Service / BND) sends the intelligence metadata, which they acquire by strategic communications intelligence data, is defended by the German federal government. However, there are doubts about the legal basis and how the German Bundesnachrichtendienst (Federal Intelligence Service / BND) ensures in practice that no German telecommunications data lands into the hands of the NSA.
According to the statements by the German federal government, the data transmission is carried out because of to the German mission in Afghanistan. That would be “good and right” and “not bad,” explained the deputy government spokesman Georg Streiter. Personal data of German citizens would be transmitted to “foreign authorities” only in exceptional cases, but this is then done within the law – in 2012, this has happened with just two records about a person.
Whereby, according to Mr Streiter, a single data record describes, for example, the connection build-up of a mobile phone call, and thus, there are several data records for every phone call. The cooperation with the NSA is based on an agreement that has been made in 2002 but it does (alleged) not include German communication data.
However, the German Bundesnachrichtendienst (Federal Intelligence Service / BND) is anyway not allowed to collect the communication data of Germans within Germany, because the German intelligence service is only responsible for the “surveillance of the foreign telecommunication (communication traffic)”.
“That is what is happening there, for example in Bad Aibling. There, absolutely no German communication traffic data is collected.” said Mr Streiter in a recent interview and specifically refers to the latest reports by the German magazine “Der Spiegel”. The German magazine had published the till then not publicly known excerpts of the Data Mining Tool “Boundless Informant”.
Accordingly, the NSA collects about 500 million information of data connections in Germany every month – by the use of so-called Sigads („Sigint Activity Designators“) with the codes US-987LA and -LB. According to the (alleged) rating of the German intelligence service, the BND, these data collection centres point to the locations of Bad Aibling and the (foreign) communications intelligence in Afghanistan.
Consequently, the current interpretation of the federal government is following: The monthly accumulating 500 million connection data from Germany are apparently from the German intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). However, it is said that no German communication data would have been included because these are (allegedly) not recorded by the BND.
Some Doubts despite those Statements
This argument seems just as stable as a house of cards – many things are only vague statements, many questions still remain open and also new questions are raised.
For example, the German magazine “Zeit” (online edition) has now been told that the German Bundesnachrichtendienst (Federal Intelligence Service / BND) is filtering all email addresses ending in “.de” as well as all phone numbers with the German country code “0049”. However, it remains open at such an approach on how the BND proceeds with some e-mail providers which do not end with a de-suffix – for example, GMX email addresses.
Add to that is the situation and the statutory requirement that the German intelligence service (BND) is not allowed to collect (beside the Germans within Germany) the communication data of German citizens in foreign countries. There are no official information known about how the BND really monitors the data streams.
The German online edition of the magazine “Zeit” asks the question now, how the German intelligence service (BND) identifies somebody such as a development worker who makes a phone call in his field of application by a local network..