Sunday

30th Apr 2017

German government outraged by US snooping scandal

  • Angela Merkel wants to bring up the spying scandal when she meets Obama (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

The German government is demanding explanations from the US after it emerged that its secret spying programme Prism collected more information from Germany than any other EU country.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to raise the issue when she receives US President Barack Obama in Berlin next week, her spokesman said on Monday (10 June).

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.

Data privacy is a very sensitive topic in Germany and the cluelessness of Merkel's government about the affair may become an issue in September's elections.

"Everything we know we found out from the media," interior minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said on Tuesday in a press conference in Berlin.

Its head of domestic intelligence, Hans-Georg Maassen, standing beside Friedrich, added: "I knew nothing about it."

The ministry of interior is working on a questionnaire for the US government to find out the extent and the legal basis for the collection of data from Germany, he added.

Similar information requests will be sent to Internet firms such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Apple, which were targeted by Prism, but which deny that US security staff got unlimited access to their servers.

Germany's hawkish interior minister - a Bavarian Christian-Social politician whose party is standing for re-election both on regional and national level in September - also indicated that US and German intelligence services co-operate well and that Prism might have "indirectly" helped Germany to prevent terrorist attacks.

Meanwhile, German justice minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, a Liberal politician, wrote in an op-ed for Spiegel Online that reports about Prism are "deeply worrying" and "dangerous."

She contradicted US leader Barack Obama, who recently said you cannot have 100 percent security and 100 percent privacy at the same time.

"I do not share this view. A society is less free, the more its citizens are being surveilled, controlled and scrutinised. In a democratic system, security is not an end itself, but a means to ensure freedom," she wrote.

For his part, German data protection chief Peter Schaar said on the WDR public broadcaster that Prism amounts to "almost total surveillance."

"There has to be more digging into this, we should not be fobbed off like that," he said.

The German opposition is also outraged by the news and is likely to seize the opportunity to depict the government as incompetent in a Bundestag debate on Wednesday.

"This looks to me like it could become one of the biggest data privacy scandals ever," Greens leader Renate Kuenast told Reuters.

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. 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. EU boasts unity on Brexit talks
  2. May’s election juggernaut
  3. EPP scolds Orban over university and NGO laws
  4. Oxford-Studie besorgt über 'Schrott' News in Frankreich
  5. Alte Freundschaft zwischen Le Pen und Putin
  6. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  7. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  8. One year later: EU right to open internet still virtual