German Intelligence Service Accused of 'Systematically' Violating Constitution
19:01 02.09.2016(updated 19:03 02.09.2016)
In a leaked report from the government's representative for data protection, Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany's Federal Intelligence Service was blamed for serious abuses of law.
The confidential report, dated March 2016, was brought to attention by public broadcasters NDR and WDR on Thursday evening. The 60-page study was carried out by Federal Data Protection Commissioner Andrea Voßhoff, who is responsible for ensuring that government agencies do not violate German citizens' rights when using their personal data.
"The BND systematically lifted and used personal data without a legal basis to do so," wrote the commissioner.
Voßhoff named a total of 12 violations of the law in seven spheres of activity, including obstruction of her own work.
"The BND massively and illegally blocked my ability to oversee it – a comprehensive and efficient oversight on my part was therefore not possible. These are serious breaches of the law."
According to the report, the commissioner was blocked from checking so-called selectors – the lists of the key concepts, which identify information such as phone numbers and email addresses used by the BND for targeted surveillance.
Voßhoff also called for shutting down large parts of the BND's data base in Bad Aibling, Bavaria. "According to law these databases must be immediately deleted. They must not be used anymore," the document said.
Opposition politicians said that the report confirmed what they had long been saying – that the BND acts outside the law.
"The report cannot be misunderstood, either in its unusual level of clarity or in the extent of its criticism," said Konstantin von Notz, Green Party Member of Parliament and head of the parliamentary committee on the NSA.
Activities of the Germany's Federal Intelligence Service attracted the attention of the German public and the Bundestag after the scandalous revelations of Edward Snowden. BND management was accused of helping the American NSA, when it was spying on a global scale. It was revealed that the NSA tapped a number of European governments and organizations, including German ones.
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