Germany cancels Verizon’s government contract due to spying fears

Verizon will no longer provide internet services to a number of German government departments, as their contract has been cancelled as part of a restructuration of the federal government’s interdepartmental communication network.

Current government communication networks are mainly based on two network infrastructures – IVBB (Information Network Berlin-Bonn), which allows fast and secure data exchange between the different locations in Berlin and Bonn, and IFMGA / BVN (Information Federal Administration / Federal Administrative network) – and the federal-state interconnection network (Germany online infrastructure – DOI).

Verizon has been providing the infrastructure for the IVBB, and this contact was originally set to expire in 2015.

The re-organization of the whole network will go beyond mere modernization, the Interior Ministry noted in an official statement on Wednesday (via Google Translate).

“The pressures on networks as well as the risks from highly developed viruses or Trojans are rising,” they noted, and added that they will be increasing security for these and other reasons.

“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,” commented German Interior Ministry spokesman Tobias Plate.

“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.”

The contract will be reportedly picked up by German carrier Deutsche Telekom.

“Verizon Germany is a German company and we comply with German law,” Verizon spokesman Detlef Eppig commented the news. “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.”

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