Skip to main content

Germany ends information sharing pact with Britain, United States

By Laura Smith-Spark and Stefan Simons, CNN
August 3, 2013 -- Updated 1615 GMT (0015 HKT)
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the cancellation of the information sharing pact with the United States and Great Britain
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the cancellation of the information sharing pact with the United States and Great Britain "was a necessary and a correct consequence resulting from the latest debates in regards to protect privacy."
  • Germany cancels an information-sharing pact with the United States and Britain
  • The agreement dates back to the Cold War era
  • German foreign minister says move is the necessary response to recent privacy debates
  • Claims by U.S. leaker Edward Snowden of mass surveillance have upset some Germans

(CNN) -- Germany has canceled a decades-old agreement on information-sharing with Britain and the United States, in the wake of controversy sparked by American leaker Edward Snowden's disclosures about mass surveillance programs.

Germany's Foreign Ministry announced the move Friday, saying it was effective immediately.

Foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said cancellation of the pact -- which dates back to the late 1960s -- "was a necessary and a correct consequence resulting from the latest debates in regards to protect privacy."

The move is largely symbolic but reflects the public pressure Germany's leaders have been under following the revelations by Snowden, a former U.S. National Security Agency contractor.

Europe furious, 'shocked' by report of U.S. spying

NSA spying dampers Obama's Berlin visit

A UK Foreign Office spokesman said the 1968 agreement had been stopped after a request from Berlin.

He described the arrangement as "a bit of a loose end" which "hasn't been used since at least 1990."

The issue dominated a conversation last month between President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Other European nations, including France, have also voiced concern.

All nations collect intelligence, Obama says

The White House last month promised joint EU-American discussions on the collection and oversight of intelligence, and questions of privacy and data protection.

The row blew up after German news magazine Der Spiegel reported that classified leaks by Snowden detailed NSA bugging of European Union offices in Washington and New York, as well as an "electronic eavesdropping operation" that tapped into an EU building in Brussels.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has said that Britain's GCHQ intelligence agency operates within a strong legal framework.

A UK parliamentary committee found last month that media claims GCHQ had made use of a U.S. mass surveillance program known as PRISM to illegally spy on UK citizens were "unfounded."

Read more: Germany queries extent of UK-U.S. surveillance programs

Part of complete coverage on
Data mining & privacy
June 23, 2013 -- Updated 1425 GMT (2225 HKT)
He's a high-school dropout who worked his way into the most secretive computers in U.S. intelligence as a defense contractor.
May 29, 2014 -- Updated 1226 GMT (2026 HKT)
Traitor or patriot? Low-level systems analyst or highly trained spy?
May 29, 2014 -- Updated 1927 GMT (0327 HKT)
What are the takeaways from Snowden's NBC interview? You might be surprised.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1152 GMT (1952 HKT)
Months after accepting asylum in Russia, Snowden asked Putin about Moscow's own surveillance practices.
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 1643 GMT (0043 HKT)
A federal judge has refused the Obama administration's request to extend storage of classified NSA telephone surveillance data beyond the current five-year limit.
March 10, 2014 -- Updated 0044 GMT (0844 HKT)
From his sanctuary in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Julian Assange said that everyone in the world will be just as effectively monitored soon -- at least digitally.
March 11, 2014 -- Updated 0039 GMT (0839 HKT)
In a rare public talk via the Web, fugitive NSA leaker Edward Snowden urged a tech conference audience to help "fix" the U.S. government's surveillance of its citizens.
August 2, 2013 -- Updated 0355 GMT (1155 HKT)
The White House is "very disappointed" that National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia.
December 10, 2013 -- Updated 1357 GMT (2157 HKT)
Spies with surveillance agencies in the U.S. and U.K. infiltrated video games like "World of Warcraft" in a hunt for terrorists "hiding in plain sight" online.
August 2, 2013 -- Updated 1139 GMT (1939 HKT)
Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden both held jobs that gave them access to some of their country's most secret and sensitive intelligence. They chose to share that material with the world and are now paying for it.
August 1, 2013 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
The NSA's controversial intelligence-gathering programs have prevented 54 terrorist attacks around the world, including 13 in the United States.
August 1, 2013 -- Updated 1854 GMT (0254 HKT)
You've never heard of XKeyscore, but it definitely knows you. The National Security Agency's top-secret program essentially makes available everything you've ever done on the Internet.
August 18, 2013 -- Updated 1304 GMT (2104 HKT)
You may have never heard of Lavabit and Silent Circle. That's because they offered encrypted (secure) e-mail services, something most Americans have probably never thought about needing.
July 24, 2013 -- Updated 1854 GMT (0254 HKT)
"Any analyst at any time can target anyone. Any selector, anywhere ... I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone."
July 2, 2013 -- Updated 1356 GMT (2156 HKT)
President Barack Obama responds to outrage by European leaders over revelations of alleged U.S. spying.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1954 GMT (0354 HKT)
Browse through a history of high-profile intelligence leaking cases.
July 2, 2013 -- Updated 1437 GMT (2237 HKT)
Former President George W. Bush talks Snowden, AIDS, Mandela and his legacy.
June 26, 2013 -- Updated 1304 GMT (2104 HKT)
Edward Snowden took a job with an NSA contractor in order to gather evidence about U.S. surveillance programs.
June 19, 2013 -- Updated 1047 GMT (1847 HKT)
With reports of NSA snooping, many people have started wondering about their personl internet security.
August 14, 2013 -- Updated 1352 GMT (2152 HKT)
Click through our gallery to learn about other major leaks and what happened in the aftermath.
June 9, 2013 -- Updated 2002 GMT (0402 HKT)
What really goes on inside America's most secretive agency? CNN's Chris Lawrence reports.