Tuesday

22nd Aug 2017

Spy scandal to impact talks on EU-US data treaty

  • Trust us, we're America: the classified papers show European data held by nine Internet giants is up for grabs (Photo: prameya)

Classified documents obtained by the Washington Post and The Guardian reveal that the National Security Agency, a US intelligence-gathering body, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are secretly tapping into the servers of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple.

The program - called Prism - is the latest in a series of secret data gathering schemes put in place after 9/11.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Europeans have had their banking data, air passenger data - and now their personal online data - snooped on by US authorities without their knowledge or the knowledge of their governments.

On Thursday (6 June), US intelligence chief James Clapper defended Prism, saying it contains "numerous safeguards that protect privacy and civil liberties"

He said in a written statement that: “There is a robust legal regime in place governing all activities conducted pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which ensures that those activities comply with the Constitution and laws and appropriately protect privacy and civil liberties."

Members of the European Parliament overseeing talks on a new EU-US data protection agreement reacted with scepticism, however.

"Common rules will only be possible if the principles of data protection will be accepted in the US. The foreseen, but struggling EU-US umbrella agreement, would be a good chance to show that this is the case," German Green MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht told this website.

Dutch Liberal deputy, Sophie in't Veld, told EUobserver the Prism scandal "could help raise awareness" of the issues in Brussels.

She said it should prompt the European Commission take a tougher stance in future US talks.

But she added that progress on the data pact has stalled because the US, as well as private Internet firms, are trying to claw EU data safeguards out of the text.

"I am somewhat surprised everybody is getting so excited about this latest scandal. It is just one of the many examples of the US tapping into our data without telling us. And of the EU commission doing nothing about it," in't Veld said.

The Dutch politician noted that past EU-US deals on data security - such as Swift (bank details) or PNR (air-passenger data) - were formally concluded years after they had already been secretly implemented.

"They are not really applied, since there is no limitation to the amount of data sent to them [the US]," she noted.

In't Veld said Europeans should put more hope in US citizens than in Brussels to protect their rights.

She said that if ordinary Americans demand a roll-back on data snooping, it might force the US to take a softer line in EU talks.

"The EU commission has a strong tradition of late and inadequate reaction," In't Veld noted.

A commission spokeswoman told this website on Friday (7 June) it has no comment at this stage on Prism or its impact on the EU-US data treaty.

US free to grab EU data on American clouds

An obscure section in a US law is said to entitle authorities to access, without a warrant, data stored by any EU citizen on clouds run by American companies.

EU breaks silence on US snooping scandal

A junior EU official on Tuesday urged the US not to abuse its "special relationship" with Europe, in Brussels' first reaction to the NSA snooping scandal.

News in Brief

  1. US will ask Nato allies to send more troops into Afghanistan
  2. Greece to be absent at event on Communism and Nazism
  3. Czechs want observer status in Eurogroup meetings
  4. Putin sends EU-blacklisted ambassador to US
  5. Austria has begun checks at Italian border
  6. Slovenian PM: Brexit talks will take longer than expected
  7. Merkel backs diesel while report warns of economic harm
  8. UK to publish new Brexit papers this week

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference