German spy agency seeks millions to monitor social networks outside Germany

The prototype real time social media monitor will only look at publicly available data though, according to the plans

Germany's foreign intelligence agency reportedly wants to spend €300 million (about US$375 million) in the next five years on technology that would let it spy in real time on social networks outside of Germany, and decrypt and monitor encrypted Internet traffic.

The Federal Intelligence Service (BND) wants the funds for a program called "Strategische Initiative Technik" (SIT, Strategic Technology Initiative), according to a report by German daily the Süddeutsche Zeitung and television stations NDR and WDR.

The report is based on a confidential document in which the BND asked the Confidential Committee of the Bundestag's Budget Committee to approve a sum of €28 million for the program in 2015.

A German government spokesman confirmed the existence of the SIT program on Monday and said that its main goal is to build an early warning system for cyber attacks. He declined however to give further details about either the program or its budget.

It is a remarkable move given the German uproar over the NSA affair and the alleged U.S. spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone, which led the German government to demand a "no-spy" agreement from the U.S. Such a deal is unlikely to be made by U.S. president Barack Obama.

The BND, which already spent €6.22 million in preparation for this online surveillance push, also wants to use the money to set up an early warning system for cyber attacks, the report said.

The system for real time social network monitoring is still in the construction phase. But a prototype is expected to be launched next June with the aim of monitoring publicly available data on Twitter and blogs. The program should filter out and discard data in the German language.

The BND also wants to spend €4.5 million to crack and monitor HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) encrypted Internet traffic. By 2020 some of that money may be spent the black market to buy zero day exploits, unpublicized vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers. That program, called "Nitidezza", should also provide better protection for government networks, German weekly Der Spiegel said in a separate report on BND's budget requests.

Moreover, a plan to monitor Internet exchanges outside Germany is also in the works. Next year, the agency wants to spend €4.5 million on a program called "Swop" to provide additional hidden access to a non-German exchange, the newspaper report said.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securityprivacyFederal Intelligence Service

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?