The US National Security Agency and British intelligence services are able to secretly access data from telecom Deutsche Telekom AG and several other German operators, according to Der Spiegel weekly.
An NSA program called “Treasure Map” gives the US agency and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) near real-time information about the operators’ networks, right through to end users on computers, smartphones or tablets, Der Spiegel said in a report due to appear yesterday.
It is the latest in a string of revelations based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who faces espionage charges in the US and resides in Russia, which granted him a permit to live there.
The report said the tracking program, which it dubbed “the Google Earth of the Internet,” can be used to plan cyberattacks.
The magazine said it did not receive any immediate comment from the NSA or GCHQ in response to the claims.
Satellite ground station operator Stellar, which according to the report was among the German firms targeted, responded angrily to the revelation.
“A cyberattack of this kind clearly violates German law,” said Stellar chief executive officer Christian Steffen, after Der Spiegel presented it with a GCHQ document said to contain the passwords of some of its clients.
In response to the Der Spiegel report, Deutsche Telekom and regional operator Netcologne said they had not identified any data breaches.
However, Deutsche Telekom head of information technology security Thomas Tschersich said: “The access of foreign secret services to our network would be totally unacceptable. We are looking into any indication of a possible manipulation. We have also alerted the authorities.”
The Snowden leaks, which began last year and have revealed a massive US surveillance operation, have provoked outrage in Germany and damaged ties with Washington following disclosures that the NSA tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone.
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