The Federal Republic of Germany has cancelled a telecommunications contract with Manhattan-based Verizon Communications, a decision the German government has made in response to the NSA spying scandal.
The government of Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed outrage after whistleblower Edward Snowden released documents revealing that US intelligence services conducted widespread mass surveillance within the reunited Germany, collecting information on citizens, government officials, and even Merkel herself.
US companies like Verizon have been required, in secret, to turn over digital records pertaining to US customers to authorities; but Verizon insists it was never forced to turn over information about foreign customers, at least not recently. A Verizon spokesperson said their German subsidiary complied with all German laws, but would not comment on the contract decision.
Germany demanded talks with the Obama administration over a “no-spy” agreement, but these talks failed when Obama was unwilling to make the assurances Merkel demanded.
The contract cancellation is part of a sweeping overhaul of the Teutonic nation’s communications and government networks, instigated to protect German communications from computer viruses and trojans. Germany’s Interior Minister said the nation was improving security on its critical networks to stymie future US spying. “”The relationships between foreign intelligence agencies and companies revealed in the course of the NSA affair show that especially high demands must be made of federal government communications infrastructure that is critical for security.”
Deutsche Telekom has been tapped to replace Verizon in providing network infrastructure for the German government’s Berlin-Bonn Information Network (IVBB), which provides communication between government agencies. The Verizon contract was set to expire in 2015; the monetary value of the contract was not disclosed.
Sources: Reuters | Wall Street Journal