The Bundesnachrichtendienst (Federal Intelligence Service) (BND) is the sole German foreign intelligence agency. It reports directly to the Federal Chancellery.
The Bundesnachrichtendienst uses intelligence resources of its disposal to collect information unobtainable by any other means. This information contributes to foreign and security policy decision-making at the national level and helps to protect German interests worldwide.
The Bundesnachrichtendienst is
allowed to monitor letters, telecommunications, and conversations through "individual investigation," with targeted collection of personal data to investigate serious criminal threats to the state. They also are permitted to conduct "strategic surveillance" to investigate specific dangers including risk of armed attacks or drug trafficking, or to proactively gather relevant information about other countries that are important to the foreign and national security policy of Germany. These searches extend to electronic communications made via the Internet. A prior court order is not required to conduct strategic surveillance; instead, the responsible Federal Ministry or Federal State Authority orders the measures.