Cablegate: German criticisms of US data protection revealed

Powered by SC Magazine
 

Wikileaks data dump validates German privacy advocates' worst fears.

The US Ambassador to Germany scoffed at German criticisms of US data protection inadequacies, according to secret diplomatic despatches published to the internet on the weekend.

Cable 09BERLIN1167, among the first tranche in whistleblower site Wikileaks' "Cablegate” data dump, revealed that deputy chairman of Germany’s ruling coalition Gisela Piltz raised concerns that the US Government was unfit to share information with and that much of what it sought was unnecessary or a violation of Germany’s strong stance on privacy protection.

US Ambassador to Germany Philip Murphy said dealing with that country's junior coalition members would be
US Ambassador to Germany Philip Murphy said dealing with that country's junior coalition members would be "problematic" owing to their strong privacy stance. photo: US Government

The cable, written by incoming US Ambassador to Germany Phillip Murphy to US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton 10 days before last year’s German elections and with the subject line: “Data privacy trumps security: Implications of a FDP victory on counterterrorism cooperation” warned that US interests in Germany could be compromised by the ascension of the centre-right Free Democratic Party.

Dealing with a coalition that included the FDP would be “problematic”, Ambassador Murphy wrote.

The party, the third biggest in the German parliament or Bundestag, was founded after WWII along liberal democratic ideals of civil and human rights. At last year’s polls it staged the best result in its 62-year history on a platform of protecting individual privacy rights.

Germany has long had staunch protections for privacy and in April its data protection commissioner exposed Google's international practice of capturing private data sent over unsecured WiFi networks, embarassing the advertising giant.

Ambassador Murphy wrote in the classified cable before last year's national elections that the “the FDP's strong views on individual liberties and personal privacy could lead to complications concerning law enforcement security cooperation and data sharing”. 

“Were the FDP to join the government, we expect they would closely scrutinise any proposals for security officials to access and/or share information concerning private persons with international partners, including” the US Government, Murphy wrote.

The FDP’s top concerns:

  • US data protection and retention policies were lax;
  • The scope of surveillance would grow unchecked;
  • US-EU data sharing arrangements were “totally unacceptable” and threatened Germany’s commercial interests;
  • Much of the information collected - especially of travellers - was “pointless” for checking crime and terrorism;
  • Unlike Germany, the US lacked a data protection commissioner to oversee how such data would be treated after collection.

Ambassador Murphy said the last point “underscores the importance of ensuring German officials receive information about [US Government] data-protection policy”.

He said a visit last year by Department of Homeland Security chief privacy officer Mary Callahan was “useful in this regard but more needs to be done to ensure German officials understand US data-protection policy”.

“The FDP's fixation on data privacy and protection issues looks to have come at the expense of the party forming responsible views on security policy,” Murphy wrote. “The FDP has been out of power for over 10 years and lack experience tackling security issues in the internet age. 

“The FDP appears not to fully grasp the transnational character of terrorism today and terrorists' increasing use of the Internet and related technology to recruit, train and organise.”

Murphy wrote that FDP parliamentarians “blasted” a law enacted last year that gave Germany's Federal Criminal Police (BKA) office new powers to use “technical surveillance measures” (ie hacking) to investigate suspected crimes and terror offences.

The former interior minister, Gerhart Baum, said the law “violated privacy rights, freedom of the press and the inviolability of private residences”, Murphy wrote.

And Piltz warned it would turn the national police service into a “super spy agency resembling the FBI”.

“Specifically, the law provides the BKA with the power to conduct remote, online investigations of the computers of terrorism and serious crime suspects,” Murphy wrote.

His concerns were ameliorated by the prospect that should the FDP gain power through a coalition with the dominant Union parties, which it did, the junior partner's influence would be diluted and that it would take a “more constructive approach” to sharing information.

And he intimated that operations on the ground would continue status quo irrespective of who controlled the Reichstag.

“Given that the FDP would be the junior partner in the coalition, we hope that CDU/CSU [governing Christian union parties] leadership would ensure that German legal frameworks are adequate and that law enforcement and security officials continue our current close cooperation and robust information sharing on operational matters,” Murphy wrote.

Copyright © iTnews.com.au . All rights reserved.


Cablegate: German criticisms of US data protection revealed
 
 
 
Top Stories
Frugality as a service: the Amazon story
Behind the scenes, Amazon Web Services is one lean machine.
 
Negotiating with the cloud email megavendors
[Blog post] Lessons from Woolworths’ mammoth migration.
 
Qld govt to move up to 149k staff onto Office 365
Australia's largest deployment, outside of the universities.
 
 
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...

Latest VideosSee all videos »

The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
Scott Noteboom, CEO of LitBit speaking at The Australian Data Centre Strategy Summit 2014 in the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. http://bit.ly/1qpxVfV Scott Noteboom is a data centre engineer who led builds for Apple and Yahoo in the earliest days of the cloud, and who now eyes Asia as the next big opportunity. Read more: http://www.itnews.com.au/News/372482,how-do-we-serve-three-billion-new-internet-users.aspx#ixzz2yNLmMG5C
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
To COTS or not to COTS? iTnews asks Karl Maftoum, CIO of the ACMA, at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
AEMO chief information officer Susan Sly calls for more collaboration among Australia's technology leaders at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Credit Union Australia's David Gee awarded Finance CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards.
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Damon Rees named Retail CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Woolworths.
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Acting Foxtel CIO David Marks accepts an iTnews Benchmark Award on behalf of Robyn Elliott.
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Sanjay Mehta named Industrial CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at ConocoPhillips.
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Greg Wells named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at NSW Health.
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
William Confalonieri named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Deakin University.
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
David Johnson named Government CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at the Queensland Police Service.
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott discuss the Coalition's broadband policy with the press.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
The Australian Federal Police have arrested a Sydney-based IT security professional for hacking a government website.
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO Chrissy Burns talks data.
New UTS Building: the IT within
New UTS Building: the IT within
The IT behind tomorrow's universities.
iTnews' NBN Panel
iTnews' NBN Panel
Is your enterprise NBN-ready?
Introducing iTnews Labs
Introducing iTnews Labs
See a timelapse of the iTnews labs being unboxed, set up and switched on! iTnews will produce independent testing of the latest enterprise software to hit the market after installing a purpose-built test lab in Sydney. Watch the installation of two DL380p servers, two HP StoreVirtual 4330 storage arrays and two HP ProCurve 2920 switches.
The True Cost of BYOD
The True Cost of BYOD
iTnews' Brett Winterford gives attendees of the first 'Touch Tomorrow' event in Brisbane a brief look at his research into enterprise mobility. What are the use cases and how can they be quantified? What price should you expect to pay for securing mobile access to corporate applications? What's coming around the corner?
Ghost clouds
Ghost clouds
ACMA chair Chris Chapman says there is uncertainty over whether certain classes of cloud service providers are caught by regulations.
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Privacy experts David Vaile (UNSW Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre) and Craig Scroggie (CEO, NextDC) claim they were not surprised by the Snowden leaks about the NSA's PRISM program.
Latest Comments
Polls
Which bank is most likely to suffer an RBS-style meltdown?





   |   View results
ANZ
  21%
 
Bankwest
  9%
 
CommBank
  11%
 
National Australia Bank
  17%
 
Suncorp
  24%
 
Westpac
  19%
TOTAL VOTES: 1429

Vote