U.S. taps half-billion German phone, internet links a month - ReutersSubmitted by VietVet4Liberty on Sun, 06/30/2013 - 07:41
(Reuters) Sun Jun 30, 2013 - The United States taps half a billion phone calls, emails and text messages in Germany in a typical month and has classed its biggest European ally as a target similar to China, according to secret U.S. documents quoted by a German newsmagazine.
The revelations of alleged U.S. surveillance programs based on documents taken by fugitive former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden have raised a political furor in the United States and abroad over the balance between privacy rights and national security.
Exposing the latest details in a string of reputed spying programs, Der Spiegel quoted from an internal NSA document which it said its reporters had seen.
The document Spiegel cited showed that the United States categorized Germany as a "third-class" partner and that surveillance there was stronger than in any other EU country, similar in extent to China, Iraq or Saudi-Arabia.
"We can attack the signals of most foreign third-class partners, and we do it too," Der Spiegel quoted a passage in the NSA document as saying.
It said the document showed that the NSA monitored phone calls, text messages, emails and internet chat contributions and has saved the metadata - that is, the connections, not the content - at its headquarters.
On an average day, the NSA monitored about 20 million German phone connections and 10 million internet data sets, rising to 60 million phone connections on busy days, the report said.
A Spiegel report on Saturday that the NSA had spied on European Union offices caused outrage among EU policymakers, with some even calling for a suspension to talks for a free trade agreement between Washington and the EU.
In France, Der Spiegel reported, the United States taps about 2 million connection data a day. Only Canada, Australia, Britain and New Zealand were explicitly exempted from spy attacks.