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NSA spies on Germany as much as it does China and Saudi Arabia: Der Spiegel

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Neelie Kroes, Brussels
Neelie Kroes, Brussels

Since details of the NSA’s massive phone and internet spying programs first came to light, America’s allies in the EU have been demanding for Washington to explain what it’s doing with Europeans’ data. Now, a new report from German news weekly Der Spiegel provides some more insight into the size of Washington’s telecommunications dragnet, claiming that US intelligence compiles metadata on half a billion German data connections (including phone calls, emails, and text messages) every day. The report points out that the NSA’s interest in Germany is much higher than that of other EU countries like France, whose communications the NSA only logs a tenth as often.

Germany is considered a "third party foreign partner"

Citing a map published by the Guardian, the report states that the NSA’s spying efforts in Germany are comparable to the attention it spends on China, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. And pointing to one top secret document, Der Spiegel writes that Germany is considered a "third party foreign partner" by the NSA, unentitled to the freedom from spying exclusively granted to the most prestigious group of US partner nations: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK.

Last month, EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding demanded more information from Attorney General Eric Holder on the scope of, and legal justification for, PRISM and similar data collection programs in use by the NSA. The two met in Dublin to discuss the spying, which Reding characterized as "a good first step." But many questions remain unanswered and tensions are running high following news that the NSA routinely spied on EU offices in the US and abroad. And it’s likely that more details are just around the corner: Der Spiegel isn’t releasing its full report on the NSA’s spying until Monday.