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[liberationtech] Revealed: secret European deals to hand over private data to America (retracted article from Guardian)

Eugen Leitl eugen at
Fri Jul 5 02:04:13 PDT 2013

Revealed: secret European deals to hand over private data to America
Germany 'among countries offering intelligence' according to new claims by
former US defence analyst
At least six European Union countries in addition to Britain have been
colluding with the US over the mass harvesting of personal communications
data, according to a former contractor to America's National Security Agency,
who said the public should not be "kept in the dark".
Wayne Madsen, a former US navy lieutenant who first worked for the NSA in
1985 and over the next 12 years held several sensitive positions within the
agency, names Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain and Italy as
having secret deals with the US.
Madsen said the countries had "formal second and third party status" under
signal intelligence (sigint) agreements that compels them to hand over data,
including mobile phone and internet information to the NSA if requested.
Under international intelligence agreements, confirmed by declassified
documents, nations are categorised by the US according to their trust level.
The US is first party while the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand enjoy
second party relationships. Germany and France have third party
In an interview published last night on the blog, Madsen,
who has been attacked for holding controversial views on espionage issues,
said he had decided to speak out after becoming concerned about the "half
story" told by EU politicians regarding the extent of the NSA's activities in
He said that under the agreements, which were drawn up after the second world
war, the "NSA gets the lion's share" of the sigint "take". In return, the
third parties to the NSA agreements received "highly sanitised intelligence".
Madsen said he was alarmed at the "sanctimonious outcry" of political leaders
who were "feigning shock" about the spying operations while staying silent
about their own arrangements with the US, and was particularly concerned that
senior German politicians had accused the UK of spying when their country had
a similar third-party deal with the NSA.
Although the level of co-operation provided by other European countries to
the NSA is not on the same scale as that provided by the UK, the allegations
are potentially embarrassing.
"I can't understand how Angela Merkel can keep a straight face, demanding
assurances from [Barack] Obama and the UK while Germany has entered into
those exact relationships," Madsen said.
The Liberal Democrat MEP Baroness Ludford, a senior member of the European
parliament's civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, said
Madsen's allegations confirmed that the entire system for monitoring data
interception was a mess, because the EU was unable to intervene in
intelligence matters, which remained the exclusive concern of national
"The intelligence agencies are exploiting these contradictions and no one is
really holding them to account," Ludford said. "It's terribly undermining to
liberal democracy."
Madsen's disclosures have prompted calls for European governments to come
clean on their arrangements with the NSA. "There needs to be transparency as
to whether or not it is legal for the US or any other security service to
interrogate private material," said John Cooper QC, a leading international
human rights lawyer. "The problem here is that none of these arrangements has
been debated in any democratic arena. I agree with William Hague that
sometimes things have to be done in secret, but you don't break the law in
Madsen said all seven European countries and the US have access to the Tat 14
fibre-optic cable network running between Denmark and Germany, the
Netherlands, France, the UK and the US, allowing them to intercept vast
amounts of data, including phone calls, emails and records of users' access
to websites.
He said the public needed to be made aware of the full scale of the
communication-sharing arrangements between European countries and the US,
which predate the internet and became of strategic importance during the cold
The covert relationship between the countries was first outlined in a 2001
report by the European parliament, but their explicit connection with the NSA
was not publicised until Madsen decided to speak out.
The European parliament's report followed revelations that the NSA was
conducting a global intelligence-gathering operation, known as Echelon, which
appears to have established the framework for European member states to
collaborate with the US.
"A lot of this information isn't secret, nor is it new," Madsen said. "It's
just that governments have chosen to keep the public in the dark about it.
The days when they could get away with a conspiracy of silence are over."
This month another former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, revealed to the
Guardian previously undisclosed US programmes to monitor telephone and
internet traffic. The NSA is alleged to have shared some of its data,
gathered using a specialist tool called Prism, with Britain's GCHQ.

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