Treasure Map is anything but harmless entertainment. Rather, it is the mandate for a massive raid on the digital world. It aims to map the Internet, and not just the large traffic channels, such as telecommunications cables. It also seeks to identify the devices across which our data flows, so-called routers.
Furthermore, every single end device that is connected to the Internet somewhere in the world — every smartphone, tablet and computer — is to be made visible. Such a map doesn’t just reveal one treasure. There are millions of them.
The breathtaking mission is described in a Treasure Map presentation from the documents of the former intelligence service employee Edward Snowden which SPIEGEL has seen. It instructs analysts to “map the entire Internet — Any device, anywhere, all the time.”
Treasure Map allows for the creation of an “interactive map of the global Internet” in “near real-time,” the document notes. Employees of the so-called “FiveEyes” intelligence agencies from Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which cooperate closely with the American agency NSA, can install and use the program on their own computers. One can imagine it as a kind of Google Earth for global data traffic, a bird’s eye view of the planet’s digital arteries.
In addition to monitoring one’s own networks as well as those belonging to “adversaries,” Treasure Map can also help with “Computer Attack/Exploit Planning.” As such, the program offers a kind of battlefield map for cyber warfare.
Treasure Map graphics don’t just provide detailed views of German cable and satellite networks. Red markings also reveal to agents which carriers and internal company networks FiveEyes agencies claim to have already accessed. Of particular interest from the German perspective are two “Autonomous Systems” (AS) — networks — marked in red. They are labeled Deutsche Telekom AG and Netcologne, a Cologne-based provider.
Because Netcologne is a regional provider, it would seem highly likely that the NSA or one of its Treasure Map partners accessed the network from within Germany. That would be a clear violation of German law and potentially another NSA-related case for German public prosecutors.