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Germany nulls Verizon contract over U.S. government surveillance

Germany’s government said Thursday it has cancelled a network infrastructure contract with Verizon Communications after recent revelations about U.S. surveillance of foreign governments.

News reports based on documents provided by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden have detailed U.S. spying on foreign countries including tapped the cellphone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Talks between the two countries to reach a “no-spy” agreement fell apart earlier this year.

“The pressures on networks as well as the risks from highly developed viruses or Trojans are rising,” Germany’s Interior Ministry said in a statement Thursday. “Furthermore, the ties revealed between foreign intelligence agencies and firms in the wake of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) affair show that the German government needs a very high level of security for its critical networks.”

Germany said it has plans to totally overhaul its communications network to ensure its security, with German company Deutsche Telekom taking over for Verizon. The contract with Verizon (VZ), which was put in place in 2010, was set to expire next year.

Several news outlets have reported that Detlef Eppig, the head of Verizon’s German unit, has said that the unit has always acted in compliance with German law.