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Wednesday, May 29, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Europe Says It Offers a Good Model for U.S. to Quit Spying

(CN) - The United States should adopt EU data-protection laws to restore transatlantic trust after revelations of large-scale U.S. spying on its European allies, the EU Commission said.

"Massive spying on our citizens, companies and leaders is unacceptable," European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding said in a statement. "Citizens on both sides of the Atlantic need to be reassured that their data is protected and companies need to know existing agreements are respected and enforced. Today, the European Commission is setting out actions that would help to restore trust and strengthen data protection in transatlantic relations."

Documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the agency recorded 70.3 million French citizens' telephone calls in a one-month period last year, all purportedly related to the war on terror.

To maintain "the continuity of data flows" between Europe and the United States, the European Commission called for the transatlantic adoption of data protection reform laws to make sure "that personal data is effectively and comprehensively protected."

Snowden's revelations fast-tracked continent-wide data-protection legislation to protect internet users' privacy rights in the European Parliament.

This legislation passed in October 2013 only days before German Chancellor Angela Merkel demanded to know why the NSA was monitoring her cellphone.

In its report released Wednesday, the European Commission advised the United States to pass similar legislation, and to commit to "making use of a legal framework like the mutual legal assistance and sectoral EU-U.S. Agreements such as the Passenger Name Records Agreement and Terrorist Financing Tracking Programme whenever transfers of data are required for law enforcement purposes. Asking the companies directly should only be possible under clearly defined, exceptional and judicially reviewable situations."

Although Snowden's revelations have "shaken" the trust of European citizens, "everyone from Internet users to authorities on both sides of the Atlantic stand to gain from cooperation, based on strong legal safeguards and trust that these safeguards will be respected," Cecilia Malmstrom, European commissioner for home affairs, said in a statement.

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