THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT announced that it has decided not to renew its contract with US telecoms firm Verizon on Thursday, due to fears that the US based firm could be allowing the National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on sensitive communications.
German Interior Ministry spokesperson Tobias Plate announced the news, saying that its current contract with Verizon will end next year and Germany will not renew it, but instead will contract with Deutsche Telekom.
The US firm had been providing network infrastructure for the German government since 2010.
Plate said, "There are indications that Verizon is legally required to provide certain things to the NSA, and that's one of the reasons the cooperation with Verizon won't continue.
"Furthermore, the ties revealed between foreign intelligence agencies and firms in the wake of the US National Security Agency affair, show that the German government needs a very high level of security for its critical networks."
While not specifically mentioned, Germany's decision likely was also related to the news that the NSA targeted German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
That news was uncovered last year and claimed that Merkel had been under the NSA's microscope since 2002, adding that President Obama had known of the surveillance since as early as 2010.
Just a week before the revelations, a spokesperson for the NSA had denied this, saying, "The President assured the Chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel."
A Verizon spokesperson told Reuters, however, that the German government's accusations are not true, and said it would fight off any NSA requests to hand over data.
He said, "Verizon Germany is a German company and we comply with German law," adding, "The US government cannot compel us to produce our customers' data stored in data centres outside the US, and if it attempts to do so, we would challenge that attempt in a court." µ