German government to drop Verizon over NSA spying fears

(Don Ryan, Associated Press)
(Don Ryan /Associated Press)

Reports of U.S. spying on German citizens -- including German Chancellor Angela Merkel -- caused outrage in the European nation last year after a wave of revelations from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. It even led to German parliamentary hearings on the issue, which started this spring.

And now the German government is ending its contract with Verizon over fears the telecom provider could be letting U.S. intelligence agencies snoop on sensitive communications, the Associated Press reports.

"There are indications that Verizon is legally required to provide certain things to the NSA, and that's one of the reasons the cooperation with Verizon won't continue," German Interior Ministry spokesman Tobias Plate told AP. Verizon has provided Internet service to a number of German government departments but not intelligence to agencies according to Plate.

Germany's current contract with Verizon will expire in 2015, he said.

"Verizon Germany is a German company, and we comply with German law," said Verizon Germany managing director Detlef Eppig in a statement, which also referred questions to a post on the company's policy blog that it says outlines "the inability of the US Government to access customer data stored outside the US."

While various officials, including Merkel, have expressed concern about U.S. spying, a report from German magazine Der Spiegel last week suggested a close relationship between the NSA and German intelligence agencies.

 

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Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.
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