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Europe doesn't want the U.S. stealing its economic secrets, manipulating its politics

Germany and France, the top two economies in Europe by GDP, have a common problem – The United States.  While the Europeans perhaps suspected their ally of mild snooping, the vast extent of data collection by National Security Agency (NSA) came as a shock to the European Union states.
I. Don't Spy on Me
Germany was especially offended after reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel's smartphone was snooped on by U.S. spies who claimed to be doing it to "fight terrorism".  While U.S. President Barack Obama insisted that the spying wasn't for economic gains, foreign leaders are skeptical of that statement given the record amount of money from the U.S. bank industry that backed President Obama's 2008 and 2012 campaigns.
Now Germany and France are looking to work together to developed closed networks for emails to make sure that sensitive communications are safe from interception by America's spying machine.

Angela Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (left) with Steffen Seibert [Image Source: Reuters]

In comments in her weekly podcast, Chancellor Merkel lashed out at U.S. providers like Google Inc. (GOOG) and Facebook, Inc. (FB) for failing to encrypt fiber optic communications lines that traveled between data centers.  The NSA reportedly spent billions in U.S. taxpayer money to carry out audacious schemes including cutting ocean cables using submarines in order to tap into international lines.  This spying focused largely on harvest phone calling data, as well as the bulk of internet traffic, including unencrypted email information.
Other components of the NSA's "information dominance" campaign were more exotic.  The NSA also reportedly worked to put Americans and their allies at risk by sabotaging international encryption.   It also used cybercriminal-type malware to attack Americans and citizens and ally states.  Lastly, it reportedly had two factories devoted full time to planting bugs in consumer electronics sold in America, Europe, and other regions.

European allies aren't happy with NSA spying. [Image Source: NYPost]

To be fair to America's political leaders, the Obama administration's policies are at odds with many members of his own party in Congress.  The NSA effectively admitted to spying on Congress, most recently. 
While U.S. tech companies have largely criticized the effort, many international business partners have felt they have moved too sluggishly to beat back the NSA and protect their foreign customers' data.
II. A Private EU Network?
On Wednesday Chancellor Merkel will travel to France where she will meet with French President Francois Hollande, who is fresh of a tour of Washington, D.C.  In her podcast she states:

We'll talk with France about how we can maintain a high level of data protection.  Above all, we'll talk about European providers that offer security for our citizens, so that one shouldn't have to send emails and other information across the Atlantic. Rather, one could build up a communication network inside Europe.  We've got to do more for data protection in Europe, there's no doubt about it.

Chancellor Merkel has been pushing the Obama administration for a so-called "no-spy" agreement in which Germany agreed to cease its limited intelligence gathering as well in exchange for the U.S. agreeing not to spy on Germans and their leaders.  But so far the U.S. President has refused to stop spying on his allies.
French President Hollande's office sounded onboard with PM Merkel's idea.  A spokesperson commented to Reuters:

Now that the German government is formed, it is important that we take up the initiative together.

Francois Hollande
President Obama meets with Francois Hollande in May 2012. [Image Source: The White House]

The idea of a "European network" whose data does not pass travel to any data centers in the U.S. is a novel one.

But it remains to be seen whether popular U.S. internet software and content providers such as Google and Facebook would be on board with the plan.  While they have data centers in Europe, large American internet companies like Google use data mirroring -- send data back to the U.S. -- to improve the reliability of their services.  Some may be onboard with the plan, though.  Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) had already suggested such an idea last month.

Source: Reuters

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By Ranari on 2/18/2014 10:03:11 AM , Rating: 4
So, I have to ask, and not in an attempt to troll, but purely to seek to understand; has the NSA actually brought this country any benefit at all? It's caused uneasiness within its own citizen ranks. It's caused our allies to question our integrity. It's caused tech companies to lose billion dollars in contracts. I'm just not seeing the benefit to having the NSA around, and you can be sure I'll be doing my American civic duty and voting it the heck out of existence!

RE: Hmm
By lagomorpha on 2/18/2014 10:33:13 AM , Rating: 3
They've stolen some technology from European companies and handed it off to American companies. Does benefit from industrial espionage count?

RE: Hmm
By drlumen on 2/18/2014 12:00:08 PM , Rating: 1
I would really like to see your proof.

Not to defend the NSA but they won't share their candy or toys with other govt agencies so they are not going to hand anything over to a corporation.

RE: Hmm
By lagomorpha on 2/18/2014 12:22:31 PM , Rating: 5
I would really like to see your proof.

In order to boost America's position in trade negotiations with the then Japanese Trade Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, in 1995 the CIA eavesdropped on the conversations between Japanese bureaucrats and executives of car manufacturers Toyota and Nissan.[61]

German counter-intelligence experts have maintained the German economy is losing around €53 billion or the equivalent of 30,000 jobs to economic espionage yearly.[63] The main perpetrator was thought to be China, although it has been revealed that a significant amount of economic espionage on Germany was conducted by the United States.[64] The target of these attacks included not just information about technology but also management techniques and marketing strategies. As well as accessing intellectual property, infiltrators were also considered, by German counter intelligence officer Walter Opfermann, as capable of "sabotaging huge chunks" of infrastructure such as Germany's power grid.[65] In 2013, with the NSA spying scandal it became clear that the USA was, and still is, "at the first position of the list", clearly surpassing China in the espionage against Germany and other European states. Germany and China were the two primary targets of these operations, and according to the information leaked by Snowden, the NSA is equally as interested in spying on German firms as spying on Chinese ones.

Being this is the NSA there are probably a lot more examples we don't know about than examples we do know about.

RE: Hmm
By Spuke on 2/18/14, Rating: -1
RE: Hmm
By lagomorpha on 2/18/2014 2:20:22 PM , Rating: 2
Wikipedia has been around for 13 years and you still haven't figured out how to click on a citation link?

RE: Hmm
By Spuke on 2/18/14, Rating: 0
RE: Hmm
By lagomorpha on 2/18/2014 5:10:48 PM , Rating: 2
I guess that's a "no" in response to my question then. Here, let me help you out.

RE: Hmm
By lagomorpha on 2/18/2014 7:01:19 PM , Rating: 4
13 years and you don't know that Wiki is iffy when it comes to information? If I post info to back up what I say, wiki is never a consideration.

I see you're confused as to how this whole intertubes thing works. Let me help you out.

Just as a google search is not a direct source of information, a wiki page is not a direct source of information. Wikipedia can't be considered a "bad source" because the wiki itself is not a source at all. The sources are cited at the bottom and should be referenced to judge the information by.

Linking a wikipedia page is equivalent to posting a "let me google that for you" link. You wouldn't complain that "google is iffy" because you already know that google is not providing the information, the linked pages are and should be viewed to get the information.

RE: Hmm
By eldakka on 2/18/2014 5:55:04 PM , Rating: 2
And its 65 external references and 50 bibliographic entries (to list a few):


^ "Unusual suspects: Cyber-spying grows bigger and more boring". The Economist. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
^ Department of Defense 2002.
^ Connolly, Kate. "Germany accuses China of industrial espionage". Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
^ Jump up to: a b c New York Times: Paris 1991.

Levine, Dan (2010-05-24). Federal Judge_Trashes Novel Economic Espionage Case "Federal Judge Trashes Novel Economic Espionage Case". Retrieved 2010-12-11.

Meredith, Robyn (1997-01-09). "VW Agrees To Pay G.M. $100 Million in Espionage Suit". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-24.

If you disagree with the wiki article:
1) follow the citations/references to get an understanding of where information was garnerd from;
2) Update it with correct info.

never trust a single source, whether it be Wikipedia, CIA world factbook or Encylopedia Britannica. Use those as sources for further research by following their citations.

RE: Hmm
By Spookster on 2/18/2014 1:58:51 PM , Rating: 2
Not to defend the NSA but they won't share their candy or toys with other govt agencies

Not true. In the Marines we used to get NSA hand-me-down equipment all the time. Usually stuff they don't use anymore. It was ancient for them but high tech and new for us.

RE: Hmm
By Fritzr on 2/19/2014 2:16:33 AM , Rating: 2
They do share with other agencies. They avoid things that will reveal methods and sources, but have no problem passing on illegally obtained information that they are not legally permitted to share.

DEA, FBI and other law enforcement go to great lengths to create a paper trail that will conceal NSA's contribution to domestic law enforcement. A contribution that is banned by the NSA charter which limits them to foreign intelligence gathering.

The NSA seems to honestly believe that using their access to identify American citizens in the US who are breaking domestic law with no involvement of any kind with foreigners is completely covered by their mandate to never spy on Americans except as collateral to an international investigation. International has been redefined to include "crosses over to the next farm"

RE: Hmm
By Schrag4 on 2/18/2014 12:01:33 PM , Rating: 3
When it's brought to light, it degrades US relations with those European companies and their nations, so as the OP pointed out, I would say that's a big NO.

RE: Hmm
By tanjali on 2/18/2014 1:49:16 PM , Rating: 2
In another words, EU says, if anybody has to spy on EU sheeple, it’s us. Anyway we all new NSA were spying on everybody but only if it leaks in a media then we are going to make fuss about it. Tomorrow will hear CIA, FBI and agencies around the world are spying too and when that leaks, we are going to say, how preposterous?

RE: Hmm
By Solandri on 2/18/2014 2:51:38 PM , Rating: 1
I'm just not seeing the benefit to having the NSA around, and you can be sure I'll be doing my American civic duty and voting it the heck out of existence!

The U.S. politicians have mostly successfully cast this as an NSA problem - some sort of rogue NSA operation. It was not. The surveillance and data gathering programs were created at the request of Congress and the President (both Bush and Obama), who funded them, got regular progress reports, and used the data for certain operations. They knew all about it, and sanctioned it (certain sections of the DMCA and Patriot Act make a lot more sense in this context).

Voting the NSA out of existence won't help. The politicians who created it will still be there, and will just create a new classified program doing something similar. They think the only thing they did wrong this time was they got caught. And if they can successfully shift the blame from themselves to the NSA, then they'll be free to carry on and try again.

The same thing is going on in Europe. The European spy agencies helped the NSA by sharing communications data they had collected. The European politicians are trying to cast this as a NSA/U.S. problem, when they themselves are up to their ears in it too.

The only way you'll see any real change coming out of this is if the politicians who thought this mass surveillance was ok are voted out of office. It doesn't even need to be all of them. If enough of them lose their jobs, the remaining ones who have similar inclinations will be too scared to try it again.

But I doubt that's going to happen. U.S. politicians will blame the NSA. European politicians will blame the U.S. It will all be somebody else's fault, and nothing will change.

RE: Hmm
By lagomorpha on 2/18/2014 3:04:00 PM , Rating: 2
The U.S. politicians have mostly successfully cast this as an NSA problem - some sort of rogue NSA operation

In their defense, most congressmen never read any of the Patriot Act. They were just told, "this will help fight terrorism" and they voted for it blindly.


Maybe "in their defense" isn't the right term.

RE: Hmm
By StevoLincolnite on 2/18/2014 6:23:38 PM , Rating: 2
When you're running the most powerful country on Earth, ignorance is never an excuse.

As someone who lives in a country that is allied to the USA, I hope diplomatic relations suffer so they get some outside pressure.
It's not right for a country that boasts freedom and democracy to ironically enough... Take my own freedoms away.

RE: Hmm
By Hakuryu on 2/18/2014 3:10:01 PM , Rating: 2
Well, they stopped 52 terrorist attempts from their eavesdropping.

Oh wait, didn't they cut that number down to 2? Sounds about right for the government; trillions of dollars to stop two plots.

Surprising how attacks occur just regularly enough so terrorism is 'always in our face'. I wouldn't be surprised that we hear about many plots stopped by the NSA in the near future; only question is whether those plots were actually started by terrorists.

RE: Hmm
By Ammohunt on 2/18/14, Rating: -1
RE: Hmm
By lagomorpha on 2/18/2014 4:16:55 PM , Rating: 4
I realize you're trying to play devil's advocate by throwing out something horrific but to be honest? Setting up a system that enables a turn-key Orwellian society is actually significantly worse than another 9/11.

So no, even in a hypothetical worst case scenario it still would not be worth it.

RE: Hmm
By Ammohunt on 2/19/2014 5:33:09 PM , Rating: 1
Sorry i don't subscribe to what amount to chicken little hysterics with your "turn-key Orwellian society" description of the NSA it is so far from that fiction as to be laughable.

RE: Hmm
By Fritzr on 2/19/2014 2:45:30 AM , Rating: 2
You have not been following the news have you.

Telecom sniffing by NSA was started in the 1970s. It failed to stop 9/11

The immigration laws that would have deported several of the hijackers was implemented in the 60s, 70s & 80s. ICE has been doing a poor job of enforcing these laws.

Since 9/11 it has been made illegal for Law Enforcement to enforce immigration law.
Since 9/11 ICE has been ordered to reduce domestic enforcement of immigration law.
Since 9/11 it has been made the de facto law of the land that you can qualify for a green card by entering US and successfully evading the Border Patraol and ICE for a couple of years. No need to meet any of the statutory requirements in the Immigration and Naturalization Act if you can prove that ICE has been following orders and failing to deport you.

Nothing NSA has done before or after the Patriot Act effects the above.

Most if not all of the terror plots uncovered by law enforcement since 9/11 were closely monitored due to being planned and instigated by law enforcement.

When the NSA or other foreign surveillance agency can say that breaking the law prevented an attack and here are the details of what was planned, then maybe you might have a point. But today all they can say is NO plots have been revealed by illegal surveillance, but law enforcement really appreciates the off the record assistance...that's a joke, after all if we engaged in domestic surveillance our leadership might go to is just very good police work that allows DEA, FBI and the other agencies we (don't) assist to make arrests and then start the investigation leading to the arrests.

just no
By lagomorpha on 2/18/2014 10:31:27 AM , Rating: 5
The idea of a "European network" whose data does not pass travel to any data centers in the U.S. is a novel one.

No it isn't, and it's already been shot down by both Snowden and a number of security researchers as being nearly useless.

You know what the NSA would do if European data stayed in Europe? They would tap cables in Europe or use the taps they already have on cables in Europe. This is at best a minor inconvenience to them.

If Merkel doesn't want her emails stolen and her phone tapped then she needs to use end-to-end encryption. If she can't figure out how to do that on her own I'm sure funds are available to hire a security-conscious secretary who can do the work to keep her communication secure. For a high-priority target like Merkel keeping her communication secure from the NSA is likely a full time job.

As far as everyone else goes: we need to move to more peer-to-peer end-to-end encrypted communication systems with perfect forward security and away from communication systems where centralized servers owned by American companies suck up all your data and store it for all time. Additionally it wouldn't hurt if the next step after ipv6 was an inherently onion-routed protocol. Yes there would be a slight performance penalty but with every router being part of the onion system it would be minor, as ipv6 stands right now making your MAC address part of the IP address is just terrible for anonymity. And anonymity is required to prevent collection of metadata.

RE: just no
By BRB29 on 2/18/2014 11:22:33 AM , Rating: 2
LOL this is the internet. Keeping Europe data in Europe is an impossible dream. If we can't tap into their network, we can just go there and get it. So if they want to really restrict data, they would have to restrict all their people as well. Then they are just going to become a hypocrite to believe in freedom of information.

RE: just no
By lagomorpha on 2/18/2014 11:35:51 AM , Rating: 3
It's almost as if Merkel went to her advisers and said, "I want a system that will make the public feel like we're doing something about privacy but won't actually interfere in any way with our own intelligence collection."

RE: just no
By amanojaku on 2/18/2014 12:10:05 PM , Rating: 3
This is the same group of people who felt that it was Microsoft's fault for the public being unaware of competing web browsers. If IE wasn't pre-installed on Windows, the average person wouldn't be able to get on to the Internet at all.

Oh, who am I kidding. Granny can just open DOS, ftp to Mozilla, and issue a GET on the latest release! No, wait! MS should just install EVERYONE' S browser with Windows! No, no, MS should spend its own money to create a website that advertises 10 other browsers!!! DING! DING! DING!

Or... people could just do their own damn research. I don't hear the EU complaining about Safari being the dominant browser for iOS, or Chrome being the dominant browser for Android... Consistency and common sense are not qualities of the EU.

RE: just no
By Strunf on 2/19/2014 4:59:35 AM , Rating: 2
It gives the power to the Europeans to check if the line has any bug or not, as in someone could physically check the line, I'm guessing that in fiber optics with specialized equipment it's possible to check if the line has been compromised or not.

You say minor hindrance but would in fact be a big one, if they tap the cables they have to go physically there and since they have no jurisdiction in Europe it would be a big issue, in the US or on international waters it's easier since they can coerce companies to allow them to install the bugs or to do it without them knowing.

Tell me more.
By wallijonn on 2/18/2014 3:31:33 PM , Rating: 2
Lastly, it reportedly had two factories devoted full time to planting bugs in consumer electronics sold in America, Europe, and other regions.

Exactly what electronics? HDTVs and XBoxes? Home surveillance anti-burglary camera systems? Cell phones?

RE: Tell me more.
By lagomorpha on 2/18/2014 4:29:19 PM , Rating: 2
Yes to all, the NSA has programs where they interdict orders from online retailers like Amazon, plant bugs in hardware, then send them on to the destination.

ANGRYMONK: Technology that can infiltrate the firmware of hard drives manufactured by Maxtor, Samsung, Seagate, and Western Digital

BULLDOZER: Technology that creates a hidden wireless bridge allowing NSA personnel to remotely control a system wirelessly

COTTONMOUTH: A family of modified USB and Ethernet connectors that can be used to install Trojan horse software and work as wireless bridges, providing covert remote access to the target machine.[19] COTTONMOUTH-I is a USB plug that uses TRINITY as digital core and HOWLERMONKEY as RF transceiver.

DEITYBOUNCE: Technology that installs software on Dell PowerEdge servers by via the motherboard BIOS

GINSU: Technology that uses a PCI bus device in a computer, and can reinstall itself upon system boot-up

HOWLERMONKEY: A RF transceiver that makes it possible (in conjunction with digital processors and various implanting methods) to extract data from systems or allow them to be controlled remotely

RAGEMASTER: A $30 device that can intercept video between a desktop computer video card's VGA output and a monitor; only sends out the red-color signal, but is powered by a remote radar and responds by modulating the VGA red signal in the RF signal it sends back; this method of transmission is codenamed VAGRANT. RAGEMASTER is usually installed/concealed in the ferrite choke of the target cable. Several receiver/demodulating devices are available, e.g. NIGHTWATCH.

The list just goes on and on and that's just what we know about.

RE: Tell me more.
By Spuke on 2/18/2014 5:51:35 PM , Rating: 2
And you still haven't given any FACTS on whether or not these programs even exist other than some wacko writing sh!t on wikipedia.

RE: Tell me more.
By lagomorpha on 2/18/2014 5:58:16 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Tell me more.
By lagomorpha on 2/18/2014 4:35:21 PM , Rating: 2
Cell phones?


"DROPOUTJEEP:"A software implant for the Apple iPhone that utilizes modular mission applications to provide specific SIGINT functionality. This functionality includes the ability to remotely push/pull files from the device. SMS retrieval, contact list retrieval, voicemail, geolocation, hot mic, camera capture, cell tower location, etc. Command, control and data exfiltration can occur over SMS messaging or a GPRS data connection. All communications with the implant will be covert and encrypted."[8]"

Windows phone:

"TOTEGHOSTLY: Software that can be implanted on a Windows mobile phone allowing full remote control"

Yes there are more for Android, Blackberry.

RE: Tell me more.
By lagomorpha on 2/19/2014 9:24:31 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly what electronics? HDTVs and XBoxes? Home surveillance anti-burglary camera systems? Cell phones?

More stuffs:

Most of the documents are a few years out of date so we don't really know what new toys the NSA developed after 2008 or so. So we don't have anything on the X-Box One yet. Given Microsoft is an American company and the X-Box can receive software updates from the internet it would be absolutely shocking if the NSA did not have the ability to use it as one of Orwell's Telescreens.

NSA tapping submarine cables?
By croc on 2/18/2014 4:57:24 PM , Rating: 2
Looked at me submarine cable map recently, and wouldn't you know NONE of the listed cables are owned by the NSA. Not only that, but the majority of the cables weren't owned by American companies. Now, if I were (say) Tata, I just might decide to do a survey of my cables, looking for 'weak spots' for repair. Then, 'snip'...

If I were the EU, and a member state's cable had been tapped, I might look to the US for damages to private property. If I owned a cable, I'd be all over damage recovery... Landing rights costs in the EU might go up a few hundredfold for US cable operators, leases for certain properties (Ramstein?) might become quite expensive...

Given all of the possible ways to make this painful for the US, and given that none of the pain has been applied, I think that this is really a storm in a teacup. I hear a lot of posturing, but I see no actions.

RE: NSA tapping submarine cables?
By Spuke on 2/18/2014 5:58:57 PM , Rating: 2
The EU is not going to do anything drastic because they're in on this too. Apparently we're all getting bent over on this one. That said, I really expected the administration to be falling over themselves with apologies especially with the "I'm Sorry" tour Obama made at the beginning of his time in office. I'm not really shocked at what the NSA is doing, I'm shocked that the only thing the politicians can think of doing is throwing the NSA under the bus.

RE: NSA tapping submarine cables?
By BZDTemp on 2/18/2014 6:11:32 PM , Rating: 1
Loads of things has happened already. For instance here in Denmark a lot of attention is being put on not allowing sensitive data to be stored in clouds controlled by non-EU companies. This might sound like small stuff but since sensitive data includes anything that is personal data it certainly doesn't help US owned companies doing business.

The Snowden leaks did not create those considerations, but for sure the raised awareness has put data security in the mind of everybody. It used to be that most people was very positive about the US and while there is still fascination and admiration the spying, the practices of rendition, the lies about WMD in Iraq, water boarding and all the other shit has certainly changed things.

RE: NSA tapping submarine cables?
By ats2 on 2/19/2014 6:31:12 AM , Rating: 2
It doesn't matter where the cloud is located. It really doesn't. Keep it in a cloud in the EU than various EU countries will slurp it up along with the US. Keep it in the US and the US will slurp it up along with various EU countries. Complaining about sending unencrypted information to people you don't know and then finding out that someone looked at it is the dumbest thing in the world.

If you want it to be private, then it needs to be encrypted, and that encryption and key system needs to be private. AKA, do it on your end, if you are relying on the cloud provider doing it, you are setting yourself up for fail.

The reality is that every major country in the EU has a major espionage org that does everything the CIA and NSA does. The only distinction with the US is the more public nature of it currently, but don't be fooled, if it isn't securely encrypted by you, then SOMEONE SOMEWHERE is looking at it, you local sysadmin or whoever else.

RE: NSA tapping submarine cables?
By ats2 on 2/19/2014 6:26:04 AM , Rating: 2
You really don't know how this stuff works do you??

The devices used to tap under sea cable have no marking in the first place. In the second, you are generally tapped fairly deep by self contained computing modules. To monitor a line for tapping and to remove the tap will costs millions and millions of dollars and will last for about a week until yet another tap is placed.

And of course its a storm in a teacup. Its all posturing on both sides. Hell, there is nothing more funny than listening to france of all places complain about espionage and spying considering they've been doing it to us and everyone else for decades.

And people are really learning the EXACT WRONG LESSONS from this whole to do about nothing. Spying IS GOING TO HAPPEN. It has been happening for DECADES. It is done by pretty much everyone against pretty much everyone. And nothing you've ever put on the internet has been private unless you have encrypted it and maintained proper crypto-hygene.

Really, the proper lesson that people should learn is that anything they want private should be encrypted AND sent with per link AND end-to-end encryption. That includes all those cloud services.

And if you are a world leader complaining that people are listening in on your phone calls, the first thing you should do is fire all the security people because they've utterly failed at their jobs.

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