Friday

23rd Feb 2018

EU needs 'German standards' on data privacy

  • A recent protest in Berlin against the US surveillance programme (Photo: Valentina Pop)

The EU needs a set of data privacy rules that will keep surveillance by foreign intelligence services in check, Germany's justice minister has said.

Speaking to Die Welt newspaper in the aftermath of revelations about the extent of US surveillance operations in Europe, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said EU data rules should be as stringent as those in Germany.

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.

"High German data protection standards should be the rule. US companies that do not uphold these standards should be banned from the European market."

"We need a package of measures at the EU level against mass spying by foreign secret services," she said.

Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, who has strongly criticized the scope of the US' spying programme, noted that it should not be intelligence services that set the standards for data protection but rather "citizens' basic rights."

The EU is currently updating its data privacy legislation with the draft rules under scrutiny in the European Parliament.

The proposed laws have been subject to fierce lobbying, including by Washington.

"If a European data security sphere is to be created, then it needs stronger parliamentary control over secret services and regular, intensive information exchanges between supervisory committees," said Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger.

In Germany, where data privacy is highly valued, the issue has moved onto the political agenda ahead of elections in September.

In her last press conference before heading on holiday, Chancellor Angela Merkel was quizzed for over an hour on how much the authorities new about the US surveillance, with Germany the most spied upon country in the EU.

It has since been confirmed that Germany's own intelligence service, the BND, has had a cooperation agreement with the NSA since 2002.

According to a recent report in Der Spiegel magasine, this agreement meant the BND passed on large volumes of meta data, from telecommunications gathered abroad, to the US intelligence authorities.

At the EU level, Merkel has said she hopes the new data privacy law will be in place by May 2014.

Both France and Germany last month signed a joint declaration pledging to set up "adequate safeguards" for EU citizens' data that balance freedom with security needs.

But despite popular anger at the extent of US surveillance activities, there are significant cultural differences towards the issue.

Merkel herself has made reference to the UK where she said decades of conflict and terrorism in northern Ireland have made the country more tolerant to surveillance than Germany.

The Guardian newspaper recently revealed that the US National Security Agency has paid at least £100m to the UK spy agency GCHQ over the last three years for access to Britain's intelligence gathering programmes.

Around 60 percent of the UK’s quality intelligence was either collected directly by the NSA or came about from its work, leaked papers seen by the paper say.

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.

EU data watchdog to investigate Prism scandal

EU data regulators will carry out their own investigation into whether privacy rules have been breached by secret US surveillance programmes, according to the bloc's privacy experts.

Greek EU commissioner challenges bribery allegations

Dimitris Avramopoulos says he will mount a legal challenge to reveal the identities of people behind allegations that he, along with other former Greek ministers, had accepted money from a Swiss pharmaceutical giant.

News in Brief

  1. Report: EU to increase sanctions on Myanmar
  2. Juncker 'worried' by Italian elections
  3. EU migration to UK at lowest since 2012
  4. MEP Andrieu will chair parliament pesticide committee
  5. Juncker's right-hand man warns of 'institutional blockage'
  6. Greek parliament to open probe on PMs and EU commissioner
  7. May gathers Brexit ministers to hammer out UK position
  8. Tajani asks Juncker for all EMA Brexit relocation documents

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU leaders to kick off post-Brexit budget debate
  2. Greek government's steady steps to exit bailout programme
  3. Frontex: Europe's new law enforcement agency?
  4. Poland and Greece broke EU environment laws, rules court
  5. Dutch MPs vote on ending 'Ukraine-type' referendums
  6. Corruption report: Hungary gets worse, Italy makes progress
  7. UK seeks flexible transition length after Brexit
  8. Commission defence of Barroso meeting leaves 'discrepancies'