Saturday

21st Oct 2017

US spy scandal widens as MEPs and MPs seek answers

  • US leader Barack Obama with Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, whose firm was among nine targeted by Prism (Photo: Barack Obama)

Left-wing MEPs in the European Parliament and some national MPs are calling for answers on whether European intelligence services colluded with the US to snoop on EU citizens.

The centre-left group in the EU assembly, its second largest, on Tuesday (11 June) called for the creation of a special committee of enquiry on the model of a previous probe into CIA renditions.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  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.

Hannes Swoboda, its Austrian leader, told press in Strasbourg: "I suspect it [collusion] because the answer given by Hague, by William Hague, is so ambivalent and so wishy-washy that I suspect there is some co-operation."

He was referring to remarks by the British foreign minister in the House of Commons on Monday.

Hague had defended the British intelligence agency GCHQ against allegations made by The Guardian that it co-operated with the American National Security Agency (NSA) to secretly pry on its own citizens by purging the data from big US tech and Internet firms.

The UK foreign minister had said a warrant is needed to intercept an individual’s communications in the UK and that “every decision is based on extensive legal and policy advice.”

But he refused to directly comment on the leaked documents that incriminate the GCHQ in the first place.

Media reports suggest the GCHQ bypasses UK privacy laws altogether by having the NSA offer up the data through Prism or similarly evasive programmes.

The affair is now under closer scrutiny by the UK’s parliamentary intelligence and security committee which on Tuesday received a confidential preliminary report on GCHQ and Prism.

The UK is not the only member state under fire.

On Tuesday, the Dutch national daily De Telegraaf said the country’s top intelligence branch, the AIVD, also worked directly with the Americans on Prism.

“We already suspected for a long time that this was the case,” Simone Halink, a surveillance expert at the Amsterdam-based Bits of Freedom digital rights group, told this website.

“It is clear the intelligence services are exchanging a lot of information and this is happening on a very large scale with very little legal control,” she said.

She noted that Prism is confirmation of the data exchange between the NSA and AIVD.

The facility and ease of the exchange is of concern.

The De Telegraaf source said it takes only a push of a single button to share the data with the Americans.

“It’s very unclear how checks and balances are performed in accordance to the law,” said Halink.

The timing of the revelation is of importance because the Dutch are currently debating a legal proposal that would ostensibly give the AIVD the power to intercept Internet traffic of its own citizens on an unlimited scale.

Halink said the Dutch intelligence services are already tendering for contracts on the technology that would enable them to perform the massive surveillance on their citizens.

A Dutch ministry of interior spokesperson declined to comment on the Prism allegations, noting that they are waiting for a formal parliamentary request to first answer the charges.

Dutch D66 parliamentarian Gerard Schouw told this website the parliament will organise a hearing in two weeks and will invite the Americans and the European Commission.

Schouw said the parliament put forward lot of question on Tuesday but the Dutch government and ministers had no answers.

“We, the parliament, are very upset … we want to know much more about what the Americans are doing with the data of the Dutch people and we also want to know what are our own security services the AIVD is doing,” he said.

The commission, for its part, said it will address the issue with the Americans in Dublin Friday during a bilateral ministerial meeting.

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.

EU gives thumbs up to US data pact

Commission gives 'thumbs-up' to controversial Privacy Shield deal with US on data sharing after a year's operation - but notes room for improvement.

News in Brief

  1. Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Saturday in Catalan crisis
  2. EU conducts unannounced inspection of German car firm
  3. Lithuania calls for new EU energy laws
  4. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  5. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  6. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  7. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  8. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  3. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  4. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  6. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  10. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  11. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  12. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!

Latest News

  1. The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals
  2. Mogherini urged to do more on Russian propaganda
  3. Turkey funding cuts signal EU mood shift
  4. Posted workers top EU agenda This Week
  5. Leaders lobby to host EU agencies at summit's margins
  6. Legal tweak could extend EU control on Russia pipeline
  7. Ukraine language law does not harm minorities
  8. EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks