Saturday

29th Apr 2017

Merkel calls for EU data law after US spy affair

  • Obama's visit to Berlin was overshadowed by the spying scandal (Photo: Bundesregierung/Kugler)

Germany wants stricter EU data protection rules forcing companies like Facebook and Google to tell Europeans what they are doing with their data, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday (14 July).

"Germany will make it very clear at a meeting of justice and home affairs ministers on Thursday-Friday that we want these companies to tell us who they pass on the data," Merkel told public broadcaster ARD.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"We have a great data protection law here in Germany, but if Facebook is registered in Ireland, then Irish law applies. So we need a unified EU regulation," she said.

Talks on renewing EU data protection rules have stalled precisely because member states are unable to agree on this matter, the chancellor added.

She also said that her government prefers to wait and see what the verdict of the European Court of Justice is on a controversial EU law obliging telecommunication companies in member states to store phone and internet data for at least six months.

Germany has not implemented the law because its top court ruled it was disproportionate.

"We are open, if changes are needed to this law, they have to be done. The bigger issue however is what happens to data outside our jurisdiction," Merkel said.

The revelations that a large secret surveillance programme run by the US government tapped into the servers of companies such as Facebook has put pressure on Merkel to show some initiative ahead of general elections in September in a country where data privacy is more sensitive than in other EU states.

"We are inquiring whether the US has broken German law. So far, there is no evidence in this regard," Merkel said, while adding that secret services in Germany and the US have a long tradition of cooperating with each other.

"The end does not justify the means. We expect a clear commitment from the American government for the future that they will stick to German law on German territory," the chancellor said.

"We have to be able to rely on each other."

Her interior minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, was in Washington last week to seek clarifications. But he was immediately criticised by the opposition as "immensely naive" and as failing to stand up to the Americans.

Earlier on Sunday SPD chancellor candidate Peer Steinbrueck accused Merkel of breaking her oath of office over the spy affair.

"Merkel swore the oath of office to protect the German people from harm. Now it emerges that German citizens' basic rights were massively abused," Steinbrueck told Bild am Sonntag.

Meanwhile, the Green and leftist opposition is calling for a standing committee in the German Parliament to investigate how the German secret service, the BND, fed its US counterpart with data, as revealed by the fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The issue is likely to have an impact on the 22 September elections. The latest polls show Merkel's Christian Democrats have lost 1-2 percentage points over the handling of the affair. But they still have a comfortable lead (41%) over the Social Democrats (26%).

Merkel in tough spot over US spy scandal

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has defended her stance on the US spying affair, saying Washington needs more time to give all the answers and that she cannot force the US to change its laws.

Interview

Facebook, Skype challenged in EU over spy affair

A group of Austrian students have challenged the EU-based subsidiaries of Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Skype and Yahoo on data privacy following revelations that they allowed US intelligence services to search to Europeans' data.

Mob storms Macedonian parliament

A nationalist mob violently stormed parliament in Macedonia on Thursday, amid EU concern on police conduct during the attack.

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. Oxford-Studie besorgt über 'Schrott' News in Frankreich
  2. Alte Freundschaft zwischen Le Pen und Putin
  3. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  4. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  5. One year later: EU right to open internet still virtual
  6. Rethinking Europe's relationship with Turkey
  7. Mob storms Macedonian parliament
  8. MEPs retain secrecy on office spending