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Germany spies to monitor Facebook, Twitter in real-time

by Staff Reporter
31 May 2014 at 20:09hrs | Views

Germany's spy agency is working on a 300 million euro project that would extend its digital espionage program and allow the monitoring of Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks in real-time, according to documents obtained by local media.

"This year, the BND {German foreign intelligence agency) intends to improve its technological methods in order to be able to systematically analyze blogs, online forums and portals, such as Flickr, Facebook and Twitter…[where] messages, pictures and further data are exchanged among members," German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reported. Broadcasters NDR and WDR had similar reports, citing confidential files.

According to the German media sources, the BND is seeking to form a "more exact picture of the situation abroad" and "better understand political and social developments abroad by gathering online communication [from those areas]."

Dubbed 'Real time analysis of streaming data,' the project will be part of the Strategic Technology Initiative (SIT) and is reportedly due to run until at least 2020.

In addition to the increased internet surveillance, the BND also plans to improve technology for automatic face image and biometric recognition.

It is reported that the methods the BND plans to use will be partly based on those practiced by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

The BND's project would allegedly also include the analysis of metadata – an NSA practice which came to light after Edward Snowden's revelations.

According to the reports, the program would be granted a 300 million euro (US$409 million) budget which Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, is set to approve in the coming weeks.

To ensure the Bundestag supports the project, the spy agency has reportedly warned lawmakers that a failure to modernize the country's surveillance program will cause Germany to fall behind its counterparts, including those of Italy and Spain.

The BND refused to comment on the reports.

"We do not comment on questions regarding our operations except to the Federal Government and the responsible secret parliamentary committees," the BND's spokesperson told DPA news agency.

The BND's plans have been condemned by the opposition, which is demanding that the surveillance upgrade be halted.

"The Left will do anything to prevent this madness," said Jan Korte, a member of Germany's Left party. He pointed out that it has been almost a year since it was revealed that the NSA spied on Germans - and now Germany is trying to do the same.

The German Greens party has joined the Left Party in protesting the BND's plans.

"Before new technical possibilities are created, the work of the BND abroad must be in principle reconsidered," said Green party politician Hans-Christian Ströbele, a member of the German parliament's intelligence oversight committee, who met with Snowden in Russia.

Source - RT