Germany Broadens Internet Surveillance

Germany has started moving towards a broadening of their Internet surveillance practices. They aim to increase surveillance by up to 15%. This comes following the US PRISM program. Among monitored activities are chat, VoIP, and emails. The surveillance program covers both German and international Internet users.

Privacy protection online is becoming an international concern. US residents have been turning to VPNs for online anonymity to protect their privacy. But other countries around the world are beginning to follow in the NSA’s footsteps. Internet users the world over are in need of the same privacy and anonymity that VPNs have provided American residents. Several are already taking steps to accommodate new international users.

Leading VPN providers are anticipating a surge in VPN use in many countries around the world. Some of them have added new servers and upgraded their speed capabilities, among other improvements. They are prepared to help users protect their online activities from spying, monitoring and tracking. These surveillance activities are not only implemented by governments. ISPs, data brokers and other Internet companies crave and collect a ton of data on people’s Internet usage.

The German newspaper Der Spiegel has reported that the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) is determined to increase its Internet surveillance capabilities and scope. The BND is the German equivalent of a Federal Intelligence Service. The BND has allocated about €100 million to the surveillance program for needed upgrades. This budget will be spread over the next 5 years to improve monitoring and data gathering capabilities.

German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Fredrich expressed a strong belief that German intelligenceestablish a strong presence on the Internet. He stresses the importance of monitoring all Internet activities not only within the country but all around the globe. The BND currently monitors only about 5% of Internet traffic. They aim to increase their surveillance to 20%.

There is no formal news as yet on the reaction to this move. Many German people have been very vocal, however, on the Internet. The general public opinion expresses worry about infringements on their right to privacy. Privacy is viewed as a basic right, as is freedom of expression. The public fears that with increased surveillance, they may be open to extreme scrutiny. This may lead to unfair labeling and blocking as has happened in the UK, US, Singapore, and many other countries practicing increased Internet surveillance.

As of the present, VPN providers have already seen an increase in German VPN use. The numbers are not stable enough to release a report. Analysts are concluding that the temporary ups and downs are due to VPN trials. They suspect that new German VPN users are as early as now testing the different services. Time will tell which providers the German users concerned with privacy are going to prefer.

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