The NSA asked its German equilvant for help to spy on industrial conglomerate Siemens
The surveillance activities of the US National Security Agency (NSA) have come under fresh scrutiny following reports in the German Bild am Sonntag that the organisation sough the the help of the German intelligence agency BND to spy on the industrial group Siemens.
The BND is the German foreign intelligence agency that like the NSA, widely utilises wire tapping and electronic surveillance of international communications in order to detect threats to its nation.
The newspaper allegations that the BND helped the NSA spy on European officials and firms has, according to Reuters at least, dented the personal popularity of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as she oversees that intelligence agency. Merkel herself was reportedly a victim of NSA snooping.
The NSA had reportedly asked BND officials to spy on the European defence company Airbus and on Siemens. Citing unnamed US intelligence sources, the report stated that the NSA suspected Siemens was supplying communications technology to the Russian secret service.
Siemens has denied any connection with Russian intelligence, and it remains uncertain at this stage whether the BND actually helped the NSA with the request.
Meanwhile, according to German media reports, the BND has stopped sharing internet surveillance data with the NSA from last week. It now wants the NSA to file official requests first, which must detail why the NSA wants any German intelligence data.
The spying activities of the NSA, as revealed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, have had major political, and business implications in Germany.
The revelations prompted the German government to overhaul its internal communications and secure government networks, after talks of a “no-spy” deal between Washington and Berlin collapsed after the US appeared unwilling to give the assurances Germany wanted.
The German government also cancelled a contract with the US telecoms giant Verizon Communications in June last year. It instead handed the contract to run the German government’s internal communications to Deutsche Telekom.
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