The National Security Agency is collecting data seemingly everywhere, but not all countries warrant the same level of communications scrutiny in the eyes of the NSA. Some high profile targets for data collection include China, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, which likely does not come as a surprise given the current global political climate.
The inclusion of Germany on the shortlist for intensive monitoring is raising some eyebrows, however. Documents revealing internal NSA statistics on surveillance indicate that the agency collects and stores 500 million German connections each month, according to the German news publication, Der Spiegel. These communication connections include data from phone calls, emails, text messages, and chat transcripts.
Germany is the largest target for surveillance in the European Union. According to the internal statistics obtained by The Guardian and viewed by Spiegel, on a normal day, data is collected on 20 million telephone calls, and 10 million internet exchanges. January 7 of this year was the busiest day on record, during which 60 million communications connections were under surveillance.
In comparison, the NSA collects data on 2 million connections on average each day in France. The documents indicate that the NSA is primarily interested in internet hubs in southern and western Germany.
Germany is categorized as a “3rd party foreign partner” by the NSA, and is therefore subject to electronic surveillance. The only countries that are explicitly excluded from surveillance are Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK.