German spying on EU states to be made illegal

Anti-surveillance protest. Berlin, August 2014. [mw238/Flickr]

The German government has agreed that political espionage against EU countries and institutions by German intelligence services should be banned. EURACTIV Germany reports.

According to media reports, the ruling coalition of the CDU, CSU and SPD have agreed to a comprehensive reform of the intelligence services.

Both the law on intelligence services and parliamentary controls should be re-regulated, reported Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB), citing Clemens Binninger (CDU) and Burkhard Lischka (SPD). Accordingly, the federal intelligence service (BND) will be legally banned from conducting political espionage against European countries and EU institutions.

>>Read: Berlin to combat violence with extra resources

Wiretaps and monitoring emails and computers will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances, which would include terrorism, organised crime and potential circumvention of arms embargoes, said Lischka.

According to the report, EU citizens will be granted similar protection that is enjoyed by German citizens by the new reform. The law will also forbid industrial espionage, so that spying on companies in order to give the German economy a competitive advantage would, therefore, be illegal.

The law would be enforced by a sort of secret service agency under the umbrella of the parliamentary control committee, reported RBB. The draft law is expected to be introduced to parliament in January and finalised in the summer.

>>Read: German intelligence service allegedly spied on US and European targets

Two weeks ago, the German government announced that it would be looking at the laws relating to the intelligence services again, in the wake of the NSA affair. Allegedly, the BND spied on several European government institutions for the United States.

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