Germany And US Government's Agree Not To Spy On Each Other... But What About Their Citizens?

from the so-us-is-more-concerned-about-germany-than-its-own-people? dept

As a bunch of folks have been sending in, the US and Germany have announced that, in the wake of the various revelations about NSA surveillance (as well as surveillance efforts by other countries, including the UK and Germany), the US government and the German government are working on ironing out an agreement to not spy on each other -- apparently covering both government espionage and corporate espionage (done by intelligence services). Of course, it's not like any countries have spying agreements. Doing that kind of espionage is always "illegal" but it's done anyway. Does anyone think an agreement between the two countries would actually stop the spying? No chance. Even more hilarious, Germany is claiming that existing US spying is already "legal."
In the progress report, the German government found that U.S. intelligence services comply with German law. Also, the operators of large German Internet exchanges and the federal government did not find any evidence that the U.S. spies on Germans, the government said.
Yeah, okay. So, if that's true (and it's clearly not, given the fact that the NSA automatically is spying on pretty much any communication between Germany and the US by default), then this "no spying" arrangement is meaningless. If it's not true, then it just suggests that the US can continue doing the spying that it's doing and Germany will look the other way. This seems more like an announcement to make people in Germany think it's government is doing something in response to the stories of the NSA's activities.

But, back to a larger point: it seems somewhat ridiculous that President Obama has rushed to stop spying on Germany, while refusing to do anything to stop the surveillance of Americans themselves. While Obama claims that there's no domestic spying program, that's already been shown to be absolutely false.

So the message we get is that the US government will spy on Americans, lie about it, and when other countries act annoyed about more global spying, the US will actually pretend to stop that spying program... but the domestic spying will continue.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 15th, 2013 @ 10:55am

    You see, it may not be the right thing to do but I've seen some people here in the comments criticize those that told at a few opportunities that the enemies are the American people and that the Govt is at war with its own citizens. But honestly, even if this is obviously not the case... It's pretty much the message that's being conveyed - even if unintended.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2013 @ 11:04am

    I didn't believe this story when I read it either. In fact, I don't believe anything government officials say anymore. They're all proven liars, who've been caught in their own lies, and have zero credibility.

     

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  3.  
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    Michael, Aug 15th, 2013 @ 11:15am

    Dear Germany,

    We pinky swear that we will not spy on you anymore.


    - The United States of America

     

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  4.  
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    Privacy Guru, Aug 15th, 2013 @ 11:23am

    Hosting in Germany? You're kidding, right?

    The German constitution article 10 has a carve-out for secret services, rendering all the privacy laws moot. And ultimately the German secret services are structured almost like outliers of the NSA, which is given free reign in Germany.

    So hosting in Germany is arguably worse than hosting in the United States, because the limit on the NSA activities presented by the 4th amendment does not apply.

     

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  5.  
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    Togashi (profile), Aug 15th, 2013 @ 11:30am

    This sort of thing just makes me think of playing Civ 5. "Hey Washington, stop spying on me." "Oh of course, I'll move my agents into someone else's territory."

    ...5 turns later, "You have discovered an American spy operating in your capital!"

     

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  6.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Aug 15th, 2013 @ 11:35am

    What the US is actually saying

    Germany, we promise not to get caught spying again.

     

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  7.  
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    Applesauce, Aug 15th, 2013 @ 11:48am

    Truce between Lions and Hyenas

    A truce between the predators does nothing to protect the prey.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2013 @ 11:56am

    so, basically, this shows the contempt with which the USG holds it's own citizens! regardless of who else it is going to spy on/not spy on, US citizens are going to continue to be spied on! what sort of government is this?

     

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  9.  
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    CommonSense (profile), Aug 15th, 2013 @ 12:07pm

    Not considering he doesn't have to worry about re-election...

    "it seems somewhat ridiculous that President Obama has rushed to stop spying on Germany, while refusing to do anything to stop the surveillance of Americans themselves."

    It only seems ridiculous if you forget that he doesn't have to be re-elected, and apparently no matter what his crimes in office, once he's done, no one in the U.S. will go after him for them. Germany doesn't have that "proud to be American" mentality that handicaps U.S. citizens, so he knows if he doesn't look like he's appeasing them, they might actually do something about it. And considering what we know so far, thinking that there's an international war crime he could be guilty of somewhere that Germany could track down and bring upon him isn't too far fetched...so it really comes down to who's bad side to you want to stay away from? The citizens who blindly love their country and wouldn't dare to speak ill of it unless caught red-handed, or the rival country that would love to see you fall if you pissed them off??

    CommonSense.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2013 @ 12:10pm

    At this point would you believe it if Obama held a news conference tomorrow and said they were going to stop all spying on the American people?

    I wouldn't.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2013 @ 1:33pm

    Wasn't surveillance all about international communications?

    What the government claims:
    - It needs to spy on international communications to prevent future terrorist attacks.
    - It doesn't engage in domestic surveillance.

    What the government does:
    - Agrees not to spy on German communications.
    - Refuses to drop its domestic surveillance program.

     

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  12.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Aug 15th, 2013 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Not considering he doesn't have to worry about re-election...

    Can Obama be charged with crimes conducted while in office once he's left? Surely afterwards he can't claim anything like sovereign immunity or the like.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2013 @ 2:04pm

    Re:

    This story has nothing to do with USA. It became a part of the German election since Stasi is not forgotten in Germany. Since Merkel is so far ahead, all she needs is to stop problematic topics from evolving. This message is entirely designed to remove the topic from the german election. Keeping secret service activity secret is to both Merkel and Obamas advantage.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2013 @ 2:11pm

    Re: Wasn't surveillance all about international communications?

    Agreeing not to spy on the german people is most likely equivalent to Germany handing over their own domestic spying information so NSA doesn't have to get them. Spying domestically is the norm for secret services in Europe. USA is privileged on this area compared to many europeans.

     

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  15.  
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    Jon Bains, Aug 15th, 2013 @ 2:15pm

    Is Obama the Cooler King or the ferret

    Can't stop thinking about Steve McQueen (and Co) in The Great Escape when thinking about Obama's current NSA predicament. Specifically the aptly named 'mole' plan. Make the dirt by tunnelling where you aren't supposed to be covertly. Attempt to hide said dirt behind whilst pushing the occasional straw into the outside world before suffocating. When faced with exposure retreat back to the cooler to continue advocating to foreigners (a Scot in this instance) about how great American strategy is. Subconsciously setting unrealistic, unachievable and downright dangerous expectations given the unstable nature of environment and supposed partner. This predictably lead to the suicide of his supposed friend. Regardless Hilts himself learned a valuable lesson - hide behind the uniform - whilst showing little emotion or remorse. No?

    While I think about it Hiltz did absolutely nothing for the greater good. James Garner contributed substantially more to help others with his brand transparent capitalism whilst maintaining an almost socialist commitment to his crew and friends. Your typical american male (myself included) wanted to be the cooler king but in retrospect the Ferret is a far better role model. Going to have to go and watch the film again now ;-)

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2013 @ 2:38pm

    Germany And US Government's Agree Not To Spy On Each Other... But What About Their Citizens?

    Come on you know neither side would agree to that.

     

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  17.  
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    Corwin (profile), Aug 15th, 2013 @ 4:20pm

    What 4th Amendment?

    Your representatives are wiping their asses with your Constitution and nobody does anything about it.

     

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  18.  
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    McCrea (profile), Aug 15th, 2013 @ 4:54pm

    Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren: Welcome to the club.

    That means the U.S. said "Yes, Germany, we will help you improve your own domestic spying program, so we can exchange relevant information between our great nations."

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 16th, 2013 @ 6:50pm

    Re:

    Don't worry - the USG contempt for the rest of the worlds population is even greater than for its own.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2013 @ 6:40pm

    Re: What 4th Amendment?

    No one does anything about it? So, I guess the conversations we have on Techdirt don't really happen, do they?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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