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German parliament may limit intelligence agency communications with the NSA

german intelligence agency nsa news 800px obama and merkel at the brandenburg gate  2013
Pete Souza/Twitter
Germany was in an uproar when news broke that the National Security Agency (NSA) had been monitoring Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone calls and communications. Now it turns out that German intelligence agency BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst) was passing select information — including phone numbers and IP addresses — to the NSA on politicians and defense contractors in Europe, reports Der Spiegel.

The BND carefully selected data based on several criteria, much like the NSA does in the U.S., but now the German parliament is reconsidering how much information the BND can share with the American agency. The German parliament revealed that the information had been shared in accordance with an agreement between the U.S. and Germany to share select intelligence garnered by the BND. The parliament may revise the agreement to limit the amount of sensitive information that can be shared between the two countries.

In addition to spying on Merkel’s phone, the NSA seems to have abused its power over the BND in order to monitor defense contractors’ communications for trade secrets. Defense contractors such as Skybus European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company were both spied upon by the NSA, and it’s hardly a coincidence that both companies compete with U.S. defense contractors Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. The NSA also took information on many German and French politicians, although it’s unclear why the agency would need to spy on their actions.

To make matters worse, it seems that the BND did not inform the Chancellor’s office that it was passing sensitive information on politicians and defense contractors to the NSA. As such, it’s expected that the head of the BND, Gerhard Schindler, will likely resign from his post soon.

The revelations of the NSA’s abuse of the intelligence relationship between the U.S. and Germany could affect the outcome of negotiations over the US-EU trade agreement, which is known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Many Germans are already against the trade agreement, and the news that the U.S. may have been stealing trade secrets and monitoring its politicians is hardly likely to help matters.

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