Blogs | Privacy and data protection | Surveillance and data retention

EU building bugged

By EDRi · March 27, 2003

The telephones lines in the EU Justus Lipsius building in Brussels, home of the Council of Ministers, have been tapped for many years. The bugging devices were discovered in the rooms of the delegations of Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Austria. The devices were placed on lines between the central switchboard and the national delegations.

The German delegation ordered their Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) to examine the bugging devices. The expert called the building ‘wired like a pinball machine’. It is suspected that the devices were installed during the construction of the building in 1995.

After discovery of the bugs a trap was set up to find out if the devices would be ‘serviced’ by the spying agency that had placed them. Nobody showed up and it is still unclear which country is responsible for the bugging.

George Papandreou, the Greek foreign minister and spokesman for the EU’s presidency, said the eavesdropping is a waste of time. “To all those who feel that it is necessary to tap our phones, we say that Europe is a very transparent organisation,” he said. “They shouldn’t go to such lengths to try to find out information – we can provide it for them.” These remarks have caused quite some amusement with people and organisations that have been following the EU access to documents policies in the last years.

Der Spiegel: Spionage gegen EU (in German) (24.03.2003),1518,241722,00.html

Council of the European Union press release (19.03.2003)!!!&BID=75&DID=75009&GRP=5602&LANG=1