Dump Google, Facebook and other US sites warns German security chief

'Stop using Google and Facebook' is the advice from Germany's highest security official, warning web users concerned about NSA monitoring to steer clear of anything that might pass through US services. "Whoever fears their communication is being intercepted in any way should use services that don't go through American servers" Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich cautioned today, the AP reports, the latest in escalating German concerns about the extent of US spying programs like PRISM

German politicians have been some of the most outspoken after the revelations of data gathering in recent weeks, though the pitch was turned up considerably once whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed alleged details of how the NSA and other US agencies monitored EU politicians. The country has threatened a full investigation of NSA activities, and warned that civil lawsuits from German citizens are highly likely.

According to Interior Minister Friedrich, a German delegation will fly to Washington next week for a meeting with US officials. On the agenda are the concerns that not only individual European citizens but EU politicians were being spied on.

However, Friedrich's advice to avoid ostensibly US web services, like Facebook, Twitter, Google, and others, may prove tricky to actually follow. Even data used by non-US companies could well travel through US networks – giving them at least one opportunity to collect a copy, even if they then require, officially, a warrant to dig through it – or be stored on servers hosted in the US.

A recent Spiegel feature on how the NSA targets international traffic also suggests that traffic needn't even reach the US for it to be monitored. The security agency reportedly has involvement "in a number of large internet hubs in western and southern Germany" insiders tell the magazine, with German counterparts supposedly knowing about some – though not all – of the tracking.

IMAGE Adib Roy