German Chancellor Angela Merkel has confirmed plans to rapidly expand the scope and size of Germany’s intelligence services including its domestic spy agency.
Citing cyber attacks and the ongoing situations in Syria and Ukraine, the German Chancellor made the case that the intelligence agencies must cooperate with each other and with their international counterparts to counter what she believes are new threats to Germany, reports Die Presse.
“The cooperation between our own intelligence services needs to be further strengthened,” Merkel said Monday in Berlin on the day marking the 60th anniversary since the creation of the Federal Intelligence Agency (BND), the foreign intelligence department. She also highlighted plans for expansion of the domestic intelligence service known as the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) which monitors groups thought to be threats to Germany’s democracy.
“We can not put our hands in our lap and wait for the efforts of others,” said the chancellor and announced there were plans to drastically increase budgets of both intelligence services in the coming year. The budgetary expansion comes after the German parliament had already given the BND much greater powers.
The legislation, passed in October, allows the BND to collect far more internet data than it was previously allowed under German law. The agency can now extract data from entire networks, not just individual lines, giving it access to metadata. This metadata is then used to build profiles on individuals for the purpose of being able to predict potential terror threats.
Ms. Merkel also addressed the role of the press saying that though the media is indispensable, news organisations must respect the privacy and secrecy of the spy agencies. She said that “secrets must remain secret”, because they lose their value when brought out into the open by the press.
The expansion of the intelligence apparatus comes after many have criticised the BND and the BfV for their inability to predict the multiple attacks that have taken place over the last year, though both agencies have warned of potential terrorists amongst the wave of migrants that have come to Europe.
Earlier this week, Ms. Merkel also announced that she would be tackling “fake news” and “hate speech” on social media networks, which could also involve the participation of the intelligence services.
The BfV are already monitoring the hipster-right Identitarian youth movement because of their protests against mass migration. One member of the group reportedly had his home raided by police due to allegations of vandalism.