The extent and conditions of digital intelligence sharing between the US and Danish authorities have been revealed in new leaked documents from the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden that were published in Spanish newspaper El Mundo.
One of the documents, entitled ‘Sharing computer network operations cryptologic information with foreign partners’, outlined four levels of cooperation between US and foreign intelligence agencies.
Denmark belongs to the second highest tier, 'Focussed Co-operation' together with 16 other European countries, Japan and South Korea, while only five countries – the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand the UK – belong to the highest tier, 'Comprehensive Co-operation'. The group has also been labelled the ‘Five Eyes’.
El Mundo reports that the documents explain the "specific guidance for evaluating and initiating Computer Network Operations (CNO) cryptologic co-operation with other countries, generally within existing foreign cryptologic relationships”.
The document essentially outlines how telephonic and electronic surveillance operations would be shared with allied countries, leading the Guardian newspaper to argue that “the Spanish intelligence services were working hand in hand with the NSA, as were other foreign agencies."
With Denmark also belonging to the same tier of co-operation as Spain, a similarly cosy level of cooperation between the US and Danish intelligence agencies could be inferred.
Conditions for co-operation
The documents specifically state that countries on Denmark’s level may not direct network attacks against the US and ought to be able to protect classified information.
The document also identifies the risks attached to the co-operation with allied countries by giving them the opportunity to infiltrate US systems.
The latest revelations have created a rift between the Spain and the US. On Monday, El Mundo reported that the NSA allegedly illegally collected information about 60 million phone calls made in Spain in one month alone.
NSA's director, General Keith Alexander, has called the allegations “completely false” and said that the data had been gathered, at least in part, by Spanish intelligence agencies that then passed them on to the NSA.
Information newspaper, which translated El Mundo’s report, states that the documents do not indicate whether Denmark was subject to the same level of surveillance.
Far-left party Enhedslisten has now demanded that the PM, Helle Thorning-Schmidt (S), come clean about whether Danes are also being subjected to high levels of surveillance by the US authorities.