Deutsche Bahn Spying Scandal Grows | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 10.02.2009

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Deutsche Bahn Spying Scandal Grows

The surveillance scandal surrounding Germany's Deutsche Bahn rail company keeps on growing. A new report says the firm repeatedly spied on nearly all its employees over the course of eight years.

Graphic of Deutsche Bahn logo with toy conductors and a magnifying glass

Deutsche Bahn has admitted to snooping on its employees

The report, which commissioned by the company itself and which was presented to the Bundestag on Tuesday, February 10, revealed that employees' bank data was compared with customer information on more occasions than previously thought.

The first such surveillance operation was carried out in 1998 and continued though 2006. In 2002-2003, company investigators had obtained the names, home addresses and bank account numbers of 173,000 out of 220,000 Bahn employees.

Deutsche Bahn has said the investigations were aimed at uncovering corruption, but the surveillance actions did not yield any evidence on wrongdoing.

The report said that not only employees, but 800 executives were secretly checked up on.

Germany is known for its strict data-protection and personal-privacy restrictions, so news of Deutsche Bahn's extended surveillance campaign has not gone down well at all.

CEO's future in doubt

Rail employee, seen from the back, outside a train

Not just managers were subject to spying

Last week Deutsche Bahn CEO Hartmut Mehdorn issued a rare apology over the spying scandal.

But the words of contrition have not been enough. Despite the report, some government officials feel that Mehdorn and his company have yet to give a full accounting of their surveillance practices.

"I am not satisfied with Hartmut Mehdorn's account," German Transportation Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee said Tuesday. "He raises more questions than he answers."

And some in the opposition are saying that Mehdorn has to go.

"Apparently Mehdorn and company don't take the politicians seriously, or they would be coming out with these serial revelations," Dorothee Menzner, transport spokeswoman for the Left Party, told the DPA news agency.

"How long do Chancellor Merkel and Deputy Chancellor Steinmeier want to stand by Mehdorn?" she added. "His resignation can no longer be put off."

The German parliament is set to debate the report on Wednesday.

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