Tuesday, June 11, 2013

European leaders increasingly concerned over American NSA programs


European leaders, stunned by revelations of an extensive U.S. surveillance program that included their citizens, moved Monday to demand more information from the U.S. government and said they would discuss ways to bolster their already-stringent privacy laws.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed to raise the issue when she meets in Berlin with President Obama next week, a spokesman said, and other German officials said that they were concerned by the apparent monitoring of their citizens.

Top officials of the 27-nation European Union also said they would press the U.S. government on the matter at bilateral meetings later this week.

The surveillance program, portions of which were described in recent days by the Guardian makes clear that U.S. intelligence services now have the power to vacuum up data about telecommunications traffic across the world.

An apparent snapshot from an NSA Boundless Informant database published on the Guardian’s Web site indicated that in March 2013, foreign intelligence gathering was focused on the Middle East. For that month, more pieces of intelligence were gathered in Germany than anywhere else in Europe.

In Germany, where memories of East German Stasi surveillance remain fresh, privacy has powerful defenders.

Individual German states have pursued cases against Facebook and Google in recent years, complaining that the companies did not do enough to give users power over their own information.

The breadth and ambitions of the U.S. intelligence program far exceed any issues raised previously with private firms.

When Merkel meets Obama, “you can safely assume that this is an issue that the chancellor will bring up,” Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters on Monday.

Viviane Reding, a European Commission vice president, will raise issues related to the NSA surveillance program in Thursday meetings with U.S. officials, a spokeswoman said.

“A clear legal framework for the protection of personal data is not a luxury or constraint but a fundamental right,” Reding said in a statement. - Voice of Russia: European leaders increasingly concerned over American NSA programs


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