Germany ends Verizon contract

Germany ends Verizon contract

Summary: The German government is cancelling a contract with Verizon, citing that it wants full control over its communications network.

TOPICS: Security, Privacy, Telcos

The German government is cancelling a contract with Verizon over fears the company could be letting US intelligence agencies eavesdrop on official communications.

The Interior Ministry says it will let its current contract for internet services with the New York-based company expire in 2015.

The announcement comes after reports this week that Verizon and British company Colt provided internet services to the German parliament and other official entities.

Germany has been at the forefront of international outrage over alleged electronic eavesdropping by the US National Security Agency and Britain's GCHQ, revealed last year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Ministry spokesman Tobias Plate said on Thursday that Germany wants to ensure it has full control over highly sensitive government communications networks.

Verizon didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

In February this year, Verizon's general counsel Randal Milch said that the US government could not compel the American telco giant to hand over customer data stored outside of the United States. However, privacy experts questioned Verizon's take on the issue.

"Verizon's lawyer is arguing the international legal position, but he seems to assume that the US courts — in particular, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court — is going to be as respectful of international sovereignty as international law would like the US to be," said Douwe Korff, professor of international law at London Metropolitan University, at the time. "Verizon is right in terms of what the law should be, but [Milch is] totally wrong as to how the law should be applied in practice."


Topics: Security, Privacy, Telcos


Chris started his journalistic adventure in 2006 as the Editor of Builder AU after originally joining CBS as a programmer. After a Canadian sojourn, he returned in 2011 as the Editor of TechRepublic Australia, and is now the Australian Editor of ZDNet.

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  • Good for Germany

    If the NSA spies on 'allies' like Germany there is nothing they won't do. Nobody is safe.
  • Germany better watch out

    From 1997 - 2001 the new Bundeskanzleramt was build in Berlin, as well as many other Government buildings...
    It should not wonder, that indeed Israeli and other Firms with Anglo-American Backgrounds
    was preferred!! build the Security Technic in all these Buildings. Even the Control Firms who checked for Security Leaks to this time...ALL from foreign countries with connections to Israels, America and what should not wonder...England. The German BND, a kind of German Secret Service, played most willingly a dishonest role in all that in acting against his own country. It should be clear, that these security breaches are never to close in total, except dismantle these buildings to the ground! Dismantle the BND to the ground should be the first priority for the German Government..
    Robert A.
    • Probably not necessary to destroy the buildings

      The Germans control them and can check easily enough for suspicious wiring and hidden devices if they haven't done so already. And the governments of all but the smallest countries appear to have need of intelligence services nowadays; if the BND were dissolved, a new agency would have to be created to take its place.
      John L. Ries
  • Technology Thiefs

    It should be absolute clear, that this kind of espionage targets in main the german technology sectors, Europe and Germany lost already Billions if not Trillions, because these going on quite a long time. America stated dozens of times, specially under Clinton:His government considers the industrial espionage is a legitimate means of economic policy.
    No doubt about it, not only Clinton saw it this way....
    Good to have such friends, right?
    Robert A.
    • So how often do you think it happens...

      ...that a corporate executive secretly gets a hot tech tip from the US government? And if US corporations do get such tips, then why is the US running such a huge trade deficit? If what you say is true, then a sizable dent in it should have been made during the past 20 years.
      John L. Ries
  • can't blame them

    Can't really blame the German government for wanting to keep internal communications secure. In fact, any nation with the technical means and knowhow would be foolish not to keep this sort of IT infrastructure in-house.

    As for the NSA, I understand the agency's desire to know everything about everybody, after all, it's an intelligence agency, gaps in knowledge make the world harder to understand and predict. But in compelling U.S. Technology firms to open up back doors for the agency to monitor traffic, it risks enormous damage to an industry that relies upon an implicit, and often explicit promise to keep your data safe from prying eyes. In spying on our allies, it risks fraying alliances. The NSA needs to weigh is desire to know everything against the harm that exposure of its intelligence operations could cause the U.S. economy.
  • Buyer's remorse

    I've always thought the Gospel of Outsourcing was snake oil; a fraud driven much more by ideology than experience or logic. I'll take the German Government's action in this case as evidence that an increasing number of elected officials now agree.
    John L. Ries