NSA’s Long Data Collection Arm Reaches Everybody

By EDRi · November 6, 2013

The new revelations from Snowden show that NSA seems to spy on everybody, allies or enemies alike, collecting data form everywhere and everyone, in order to get a “diplomatic advantage” over allies such as France and Germany or an “economic advantage” over countries such as Japan or Brazil. Or even more?

NY Times explains that not only NSA is demanding the data it gathers, but also other agency’s “customers” are asking for different data from NSA. And "customers" means in this context "not only the White House, Pentagon, FBI and CIA, but also spread across the Departments of State and Energy, Homeland Security and Commerce and the United States Trade Representative (USTR)."

But USTR is in fact the US administration counterpart that is negotiating with the European Commission on TTIP – the planned EU/US free trade agreement. Which sheds a new light on the whole TTIP process. Also a new light on the news already reported by EDRi on 13 June 2013 – that the European Commission watered down its proposed Data Protection Regulation to weaken rules for transferring data to law enforcement authorities outside the EU.

Der Spiegel magazine has claimed that a report shows that NSA has been spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone since 2002. Following this disclosure, the Chancellor phoned the US president who apologised to the German chancellor and promised he knew nothing of the alleged phone monitoring.

Yet, on 27 October 2013, Bild newspaper quoted US intelligence sources stating that NSA head Keith Alexander briefed Obama about the covert operation targeting Merkel in 2010, personally.

According to Der Spiegel, a unit called Special Collection Services, based on the fourth floor of the US embassy in Berlin, was in charge with monitoring communications in the German government quarter, including Mrs Merkel’s communications. Similar units were based in around 80 locations all over the world.

Germany’s Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich told Bild that such an operation would be illegal in Germany, considering that those responsible for such an operation should be held accountable.

Germany and France said on 25 October 2013 that they wanted the US to sign a no-spy deal by the end of the year.

Also Spain has started reacting by asking explanations from the US officials after having been confirmed that Spanish politicians and members of the Parliament had been also targeted by NSA. Only that Spain is in a more delicate position than France or Germany as its relations to the US is a priority.

All these disclosures have put US government and NSA in a delicate position. The White House has ordered a review of NSA’s domestic and foreign intelligence collection.

“From N.S.A.’s point of view, it’s a disaster. Every new disclosure reinforces the notion that the agency needs to be reined in. There are political consequences, and there will be operational consequences,” said Matthew M. Aid, an intelligence historian, author of a 2009 book on the NSA.

US bugged Merkel’s phone from 2002 until 2013, report claims

Merkel’s cell phone has been on U.S. eavesdropping list since 2002 (only in German, 26.10.2013)…

No Morsel Too Minuscule for All-Consuming N.S.A. (2.11.2013)…

Washington controlled millions of calls and spied politicians in Spain (only in Spanish, 24.10.2013)…

NSA FILES: DECODED – What the revelations mean for you (1.11.2013)…

Data protection in TTIP/TAFTA – how to make a bad situation worse (13.06.2013)