One possibility is that German politicians take a stand against surveillance while campaigning, making promises, thus causing Germany to become more of a pro-privacy hardliner. This would be a good outcome.
Another possibility is that mainstream politicians fail to do so, but the Pirate Party will manage to get the 5% necessary to enter parliament, thus needling them for years to come. This would also be good.
The third possibility is that mainstream politicians will ignore it and the Pirate Party will fail, causing the political leadership to see the "privacy vote" as negligible. This would be bad for both Germany and Europe.
The rest is pure speculation. First, is NSA surveillance in Germany actually disproportionate or did the leaked slides not account for population differences. Maybe, but according to the slides, there are on the order of as many intercepts in China as Germany. So lets assume its not erroneous.
Why does the NSA have a disproportionate interest in Germany? Are they of massively more geopolitical significance than their neighbors or does the USA have a dearth of insight into their foreign policy thinking via back channels? I'd say thats more likely to describe France with its Security Council seat and less strong working relationship with the US.
Is the NSA engaged in massive economic espionage? Possible, but I can't imagine that accounts for enough as that would likely be rather targeted.
So the last reason I can think of is counter-terrorism (one of the NSA's main focuses). Mohammed Atta was part of a cell in Hamburg after all. Ok, but why Germany and not say Denmark or France which both have similar populations you might expect(rightly or wrongly) to be under similar surveillance? As someone pointed out on HN a while ago, Denmark does extensive surveillance and telephone monitoring themselves. I'd guess France does too. Does Germany? I honestly don't know, but given the German's focus on privacy and the legacy of the Stasi, I certainly could see it being a problem and being easier to outsource to the NSA.
Germany is pretty pro-privacy, but they still signed the "safe haven" agreement with the US which more or less allows US companies to do anything with the data of German citizens, local laws be damned.
However, I believe Ms Merkel has had some colorful things to say in private about the slick Mr Obama who came over on a visit just a week ago. Must be nice to learn that he was blabbing about his high ethical standards while at the same time his spies were wiretapping her communications.
Cash rules everything around me. CREAM get the money, dolla dolla bill yall.
If you thing you know about the EU two easy questions for you: What is the equivalent of a minister in the EU? Name two and their policies.
Answer: qverpgbe-trareny The english wikipedia page does not even list their names. The german does. http://tinyurl.com/pkrllhd These people rule the eu, and only about 1/3 has wikipedia entries.
Ok, he didn't show any real proof at the time, but was it that hard to believe it would happen? I don't know about you, but I'd rather be paranoid than naive this time, especially since we have no idea what else NSA is hiding, and what's the real extent of their spying operations. It seems to me being naive would hurt more, at this point.
In what deranged world-view does being "the explicit purpose" of something make it right?
(and it's not even their explicit purpose, otherwise they'd be called the International Spying Agency ...)
> And aren't EU members' governments doing the same thing against the US?
That's a childish argument. Frankly I don't care if Germany or France or whoever are spying on eachother too. An example from my work with kids, "but he's doing it tooooooo!" doesn't really fly with me, it doesn't matter, they shouldn't be doing it either, but I caught you, now clean that up.
While two EU states spying on eachother is an internal EU matter, I do wonder to what extent EU states are spying on the US. It sounds risky, though. I mean, if we catch a US spy snooping on our diplomats, we can't really throw them in Guantanamo, or anything ...
That is like being shocked and horrified that animal control puts down stray dogs. People don't like to talk about it, a small number of people might be upset by it, but it is a necessary part of civilized society.
We give them our tax dollars for this explicit reason. Please go spy on other countries so that we know what is going on in the world. Congress has been approving their budget every year to continue doing it for the last 62 years.
Call it childish all you want, but every other country in the world has an intelligence service. The EU itself has INTCEN, the UN has UNIT, heck even the Vatican has SRS, that all have the same basic functions as our CIA and NSA.
In Finland we don't have stray dogs. No animal control putting them down either. I guess we aren't a civilized society by your standards, assuming your claim is true.
Now that I have shown why your example is not true(or that you are an idiot for thinking Finland is not civilized society, your choice), I have to admit that I still can't think why foreign intelligence during peacetime would be "a necessary part of civilized society". I have never heard any arguments for this, so feel free to be the first. I'm waiting.
So what do you have?
(I'm assuming 'unsurvivably cold weather' isn't your answer, either).
I haven't spent enough time thinking about the complex global dynamics of intelligence and counter-intelligence to judge the truthfulness of this statement, but I'm also not sure the necessity of spying is something we should blindly accept without carefully considering the rationale and consequences.
And by the way, it's actually important for people to be shocked and horrified that animal control puts down stray dogs, because there are ways that society can lessen the frequency of such acts (neutering pets, etc.), and knowing about the consequences provides motivation to take preventative steps.
So, when it emerges that one part of the alliance has been less than forthcoming with another part, it stresses the alliance. Even if this is a normal, though rarely spoken of, aspect of international relations.
So.. the recent events mentioned here have the effect of making the US adopt an apologetic role. As such, it weakens their "soft" power, since their moral authority is weakened. This weakens their influence in a wide number of always-ongoing international negotiations.
The wider effect on commercial activity and how it relates to surveillance is discussed by others here. Personally, I hope it leads to commercial providers of internet communication facilities adopting stringent privacy measures by default, in the manner that certain banks may (or used to) protect your financial information.
My opinion is that if they want to keep something secret, then they have that right, and we shouldn't be prying. If the rest of the world thinks that's crazy, well we can be a good example.
Other governments doing the same is exactly why the NSA and the CIA can be justified. Not having them would put the US at a serious information disadvantage.
A completely different issue is _what_ and _how much_ information gathering they should be doing. For instance, the US has been complaining about Chinese computer attacks for a long time, and it now seems that the US is at least as guilty in doing this. So the US certainly don't seem to have the moral high ground anymore.
We could go on: the US incarcerates its populace far more than other nations, even though its populace isn't more genetically predisposed to criminality.
Nation-states are artificial institutions which make war and control their subjects. They're remarkably similar to the mafia model. "Defending its populace" is akin to a protection racket. (For example, the US's actions clearly have the effect of increasing risks, not reducing them.) Dispute resolution (courts, etc) and top-down "democratic" forms are the result of needing to demonstrate some legitimacy lest they be overthrown by their subjects. Even in a rich country like the US, most people still have little ability to participate meaningfully in the legal/political/economic systems; and in presidential elections, very few votes actually count (due to the electoral system).
Since the US is the most powerful nation-state, it's the most violent; that's a correlation that runs through history. In particular, its capacity for violence (military) has no competitors. (It also has the most advanced economy, but it's no longer so advanced in this dimension as it was after WWII.)
What do you think would be a good alternative to nation states? For instance, I think using the US electoral system is a bad example of how people can particilate in their government, so I think it's a bad example if you try to discredit the idea of nations.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_South_Ossetia_war (blame whichever side(s) you like)
This is not to say that the U.S. has always acted in a way that reduces the risk of war. And obviously there's nothing positive to say about the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But the military itself does not inevitably lead to massive violence. Even in Iraq most of the casualties have come from Muslims killing Muslims.
Soon I'll get some kids older than 11, they can read English, that helps a lot ... maybe the old Aphyxia tuts, so who knows :)
So intrusion in government networks and wide interception of the civilian population communication of a countries that are stable, democracies and partners in NATO and allies in the wars US is waging comes as a somewhat hostile stuff.
US is doing too much spying right now. Too wide, too long a period, too broad. Europe has deep scars and trust issues.
In a sense US should abandon SIGINT and stick to the good old fashioned HUMINT with its allies at least. If you want documents and info there are gentler ways to obtain them.
Also yeah - the whole dragnets should be scaled back for various reasons. If you intercept and retain everything you have insane SNR that can prove counterproductive in the long run.
Very intensive spying on allies is impolite at best.
And yet allies do it constantly. I'm skeptical that polite applies in this context when you consider history.
I think your last sentence is hopelessly naive.
That's why they get all that tax money. If anything, we should be pleased that here are some government departments who actually manage to meet their obligations - gather a bunch of intelligence.
What other people do with that intel is perhaps disappointing.
I hear that argument a lot on HN defending state vs state spying. I never really understood the moral basis of it. Or is national security not required to operate under a moral framework?
I know WW1/WW2 are a long ways in the past now, so it's sort of easy to forget the repeating cycle of nation warring, but history is routinely littered with civilization shattering wars. No sense in pretending everything is going to always be peachy, it's not. Knowledge is power, and at times far more valuable than standing armies. I think the famous quote: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure - is appropriate here.
The first responsibility of a democratic government is to reflect the will of the people. If the people decide that security inherently trumps all other values, that is their right. But I don't think much of a society that is not willing to endure any amount of risk for their lives, in order to safeguard their values and quality of life. (I'm an American, and the level of the cowardice in the majority of the public is downright sickening.)
The entire purpose of a Constitution is to put a difficult-to-change upper bound on government power, even if the people want "more nines" of safety.
This is a horrifying line of thinking. It reminds me of the quote, "If you want total security, go to prison. There you're fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking... is freedom."
A nation protecting its citizens has absolutely nothing to do with creating a police state or obliterating freedom. It would be absurd to claim the opposite: no nation can ever protect its people, because to do so is to destroy freedom.
It is absolutely the first responsibility of any nation to keep its people safe (notice I did not say create a police state, or spy on everybody, or violate the constitution). If you can't do that as a government, then you have no reason to exist.
I think the root of your error is in confusing what a modern politician might mean with the word "security," and what classic liberalism would say when it comes to the responsibility of a nation to ensure the freedom of its people (eg to ensure that they are safe from physical assault both by domestic enemies such as gangs or militias, or by foreign military invasion). You assume when I say security, that I mean Obama's (or Bush's) equivalent framing.
For my part, I'd vote against any party that put security as it's top priority, because the abuses likely to come out of that would be horrifying. Including being the aggressor in unjustified wars.
What's moral amongst the nations is not necessarily what's moral between a state and its people.
E.g. in this case bugging E.U. offices might reveal E.U. nations trying to conspire to gain benefit at upcoming international trade negotiations. The immoral measure of spying helps detect and defeat the immoral measure of conspiracy.
There's a reason spies are part of what is called the world's "second oldest profession". I won't even try to pretend it's fully on the up-and-up... but neither is much of what nations do to each other.
If a diplomat get caught spying, he gets deported. If the offending country continues, then the embassy might get closed. If a non-diplomat get caught spying, he gets jailed. Those are the common tools in dealing with spies.
The outcry happens when the spying is on neutral grounds like the European Union offices, or the spying is done in intrinsic globally shared common resource like the Internet. Problem is, the previous tools are not suitable. You can't really kick out U.S. from ever enter the European Union offices as soon the U.S. is found to be spying. Nor can you isolate the U.S. from the Internet when the U.S. is found to be spying there.
Thus the political outcry.
Do you know why?
Because there is a complete trust asymmetry between the leaders of some states in Europe and the leaders of the US. When the last government was formed in Germany, a guy from the FDP (free democratic party) regularly took his notes and other inofficial documents from the coalition negotiations to the US embassy and presented them to US personnel there, while the negotiations were still going on. Guess what his punishment was, when it came out.
So it seems the leaders of Germany consider the US to be so trustworthy that its spying on them is not seen as problematic. Why would these same people even consider spying on the US, especially since, given the quality of German intelligence services, it is highly unlikely that it would go unnoticed by the US?
Germany has a coalition government, meaning that two parties govern together with thematic areas of government assigned to either party.
In real life, the US has been always all over Germany with its surveillance. Easy, because of all the military installations and so many US personal here.
I can only imagine.
Countries we're neutral with (not allies per se, not at war with), such as China, routinely spy on the US Government and its corporations; ditto Russia (and that goes back a long ways). And of course China is America's largest trading partner, so we're quite friendly there.
Or for example, the UK spying on the Germans:
I would argue that all the major countries are attempting to spy on all the other major countries.
Perhaps none so successfully or belligerently as the US of course.
We've assumed people are spying on us as a matter of course, if we've paid attention to world history. The Soviets and Israel especially have had some especially ingenious means to spy on U.S. diplomatic communications.
And the representatives would end up in jail/death row.
It would be absurdly naive to think they weren't.
And sooner or later, news that this has happened will leak to the media, and there will be widespread fear and outrage among the powerful.
Then, and only then, can we expect anything meaningful to get done.
Until that point, expect a lot of talk, but no walk.
Some years back, it was revealed that the US had bugged the offices of foreign dignitaries at the United Nations. It was just just a blip in the news. Sure, there was some grumbling, but nothing was done. And now we can see that the practice continues.
Besides, all these countries spy on each other. What do you think their spy agencies are for? Do you really think that their spying is only reserved for their "enemies"? Do you think they can resist using their sophisticated spying technologies to spy on their allies? Is anyone really suprised?
I personally would be surprised if they didn't spy on their allies -- just as I would be if the US suddenly started using swords on the battlefield because they were more honorable weapons than guns which kill from a safe distance.
Welcome to the world of Machiavelli and realpolitik. We don't live in Disneyland.
Just imagine the uproar!
For some reason they were really interested in spying on Turkey and South Africa of all places.
Surprised these internet cafes still aren't using a disposable VPS for every customer to prevent easy keyloggers though I would imagine they can probably smash right through a hypervisor and bug the host and guest.
At the government level, intelligence agency jealousy is about the only thing being generated by US spy programs (particularly since the US is substantially cutting in its allies, most of them have known about this for a long time).
She was wrong. This is a diplomatic disaster for the US.
It's not like the US can make unilateral decisions (except for a president declaring war). Congress has to make decisions and that's like herding cats.
Somehow before they were taping everyone's phone calls and internet traffic they produced the report "Bin Laden determined to strike"  yet nothing was done with that intel.
I'm sure they're also interested in these state's methods for security/offensive hacking and spying. If they find a hole they can either approach the country with American made (and backdoored) infrastructure blackboxes to sell them or monitor it looking for Chinese or Russian state hackers to break in so they can watch their methods and eval capabilities.
I doubt much of 3, because they've been in operation since the fifties, which is a very long time for usage to evolve and find a purpose and then entrench itself.
I assume 1 is the primary usage.
Military uses will be rare, since it's the EU, which doesn't have an army.
Some say this has become completely inverted but brilliant legal minds like John Yoo obviously know better.
They didn't declare that the nation itself is in a state of war, which is itself accurate if you look around in the U.S., where the war (and wars) have had minimal effect at home.
Personally I would say the AUMF should go away after the withdrawal from Afghanistan but let's not act like there's some magical international legal shield over AQ because they haven't taken over any other national governments.
You seem to be assuming that a declaration of war plays only into military terminology, but that's not the case. The AUMF gives the President Congress's blessing to use the military to defeat terrorist groups and their supporters (especially those responsible for 9/11), without giving the President the keys to the other aspects of national government which might rightly be involved in a war effort. So the executive has special wartime powers relating to the prosecution of the military effort within the constraints of current military capabilities (e.g. he can now mobilize some types of Reservists), but not other special wartime powers (e.g. no authority to call a draft, impose food rationing, etc.).
> When do these powers expire?
You're right. We did set some kind of precedent and pattern there, though, of course, modern military power is capable of wasting ever so much more life and money on the way to an awkward inconclusive end.
But I don't think just because it was an old bad pseudo war that adds to legitimacy.
This is the "legit" spy game that mostly I find acceptable. Again, its merely about understanding intention. Each side has to verify good intention to proceed with confidence.
If the US government has decided to treat the EU as an adversary, it doesn't exactly bode well for, eg, NATO cooperation, or access to the EU market for trade (particularly in computer services). If the NSA is doing this simply because they have the ability, then they're usurping decisions that properly belong to the democratically elected civil government, such as it is.
"As a fugitive, Poulsen needled the FBI by hacking federal computers and revealing details of wiretaps on foreign consulates, suspected mobsters, and the American Civil Liberties Union. He also hacked into the details on FBI front companies. At the highest levels of U.S. law enforcement"
I'm wondering what he knows or thinks about all the stuff coming out now. . .
I would love to see Obama have a town hall with European citizens and explain to them why this is a good thing.
The document explicitly called the EU a "target".
(I'm only playing devil's advocate here -- tapping EU networks is damning enough.)
More seriously, who uses public internet terminals for anything? I would never log in from one.
I would (and admittedly not very carefully) use a public internet connection with my own laptop. If I was carrying state secrets, I'd hope that my state would have given me a very well-configured laptop which would just use the public internet for a VPN, and would allow no DNS or anything else to be consumed from the public resource.
A small example: all international bank transfers within Europe (through SWIFT, located in Brussels), are all sent to the USA. Because they need that stuff to catch terrorists. Apparently the US can (and have) even interceped money.
Travelers away from home. And these cafes tend to be much more common outside the US - I've used them from Colombia to Germany to Korea.