The NSA broke into big German networks to map their data traffic

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It's no secret that the NSA's spies have been busy in Germany. However, it's now apparent that their activities in the country may reach much further than just targeting important leaders and suspects. Der Spiegel has published leaks showing that the US agency broke into the networks of both tech giant Deutsche Telekom and regional provider Netcologne as part of an effort to map as much of the internet as possible. Since the initiative (Treasure Map) is meant to pinpoint individual devices as well as infrastructure, the discovery hints that the NSA can potentially monitor a huge amount of German data traffic on routers, servers and personal gadgets.

It's not clear just what kind of surveillance is taking place. While the mapping is a concern by itself, it's not certain that the NSA is actively tracking everyone's devices. When Britain's GCHQ infiltrated German satellite companies like Stellar, for example, it was interested in watching particular suspects rather than everyone on the network. Even if your average person off the street isn't a target, though, the discovery could put the NSA into hot water once again. Netcologne's regional status suggests that the intrusion came from within Germany, which would violate national law -- in other words, the US isn't about to improve its souring relations with der Deutschland any time soon.

[Image credit: John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images]

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