12:51 PM

Germany Criticizes U.K. 'Project Tempora' Cyber Spy Program

German politician wants the EU to address reports that Britain's spymasters are even better at harvesting Internet traffic than their NSA allies.

Europe continues to be shaken by the fallout from the NSA Prism revelations -- with Britain's alleged surveillance activities the latest issue.

Two weeks ago, British foreign secretary William Hague attempted to reassure Parliament and the nation that whistleblower Edward Snowden's claims about massive spying on Internet communications were inaccurate.

However, subsequent claims by Snowden, published in U.K. newspaper The Guardian, that the country's GCHQ signals monitoring center taps fiber optic cables in a data-harvesting scheme called Project Tempora have angered Britain's European colleagues.

If the reports are true, Tempora is an 18-month old scheme whereby large volumes of data are drawn from fiber optic cables for up to 30 days so that it can be sifted and analyzed.

[ U.S. Congress also reacts to the Prism fallout. See Senate Bill Seeks Greater NSA Surveillance Oversight. ]

Tempora is claimed to be in some ways an even bigger operation than Prism, allowing British spooks to boast to their intelligence colleagues in the Five Eyes electronic eavesdropping alliance, comprised of the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, that it had the "biggest Internet access" capabilities of the club, and that GCHQ "produces larger amounts of metadata than the NSA."

Not everyone is as impressed with this act of questionable technical prowess, of course. Germany's federal justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, has expressed anger and demanded the U.K. government's details of how her citizens may have been affected by the program. The Guardian reported Wednesday that Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger has written to two British ministers, Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling and Home Secretary Theresa May, to find out more.

Reportedly, the German politician wants Tempora to be discussed in the context of ongoing discussions about EU data protection regulation at the next meeting of European justice and home affairs ministers, scheduled for July.

She is also alleged to have described Tempora as like the plot of a "Hollywood nightmare," claiming free and democratic societies could not flourish when states shrouded their actions in "a veil of secrecy."

The Home Office told the newspaper that it refuses to comment on what it regards as private correspondence, while the Ministry of Justice said it would respond in "due course."

Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger had already criticized Prism in the German press. "As much as we want counterterrorism efforts to be effective, there has to be a reasonable balance between security and the freedom of citizens ... The global Internet has become indispensible for a competitive economy, the sharing of information and the strengthening of human rights in authoritarian countries. But our trust in these technologies threatens to be lost in the face of comprehensive surveillance activities," she said.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Five Emerging Security Threats - And What You Can Learn From Them
At Black Hat USA, researchers unveiled some nasty vulnerabilities. Is your organization ready?
Flash Poll
The Top Cybersecurity Risks And How Enterprises Are Responding
The Top Cybersecurity Risks And How Enterprises Are Responding
The information security landscape is a constantly shifting risk environment. Today's IT security department must manage both internal and external threats' ranging from malware to mobile device vulnerabilities, to cloud security and ransomware. Download the Dark Reading 2016 Strategic Security Survey to gain insight into how security professionals view these risks, and how they are addressing them.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
Published: 2015-10-15
The Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) subsystem in the Linux kernel through 4.x mishandles requests for Graphics Execution Manager (GEM) objects, which allows context-dependent attackers to cause a denial of service (memory consumption) via an application that processes graphics data, as demonstrated b...

Published: 2015-10-15
netstat in IBM AIX 5.3, 6.1, and 7.1 and VIOS 2.2.x, when a fibre channel adapter is used, allows local users to gain privileges via unspecified vectors.

Published: 2015-10-15
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in eXtplorer before 2.1.8 allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of arbitrary users for requests that execute PHP code.

Published: 2015-10-15
Directory traversal vulnerability in QNAP QTS before 4.1.4 build 0910 and 4.2.x before 4.2.0 RC2 build 0910, when AFP is enabled, allows remote attackers to read or write to arbitrary files by leveraging access to an OS X (1) user or (2) guest account.

Published: 2015-10-15
Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) 1.1j allows local users to gain privileges via vectors involving addition of an SSH key, aka Bug ID CSCuw46076.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
According to industry estimates, about a million new IT security jobs will be created in the next two years but there aren't enough skilled professionals to fill them. On top of that, there isn't necessarily a clear path to a career in security. Dark Reading Executive Editor Kelly Jackson Higgins hosts guests Carson Sweet, co-founder and CTO of CloudPassage, which published a shocking study of the security gap in top US undergrad computer science programs, and Rodney Petersen, head of NIST's new National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education.