Thursday

22nd Aug 2019

EU intelligence agencies complicit in NSA snoops, US senator says

A top US senator told the European Parliament foreign relations committee on Tuesday (26 November) that US snooping was done “largely in co-ordination with your countries intelligence services.”

US Senator Chris Murphy, who chairs the senate's foreign relations subcommittee on European affairs, said the collection of so-called metadata is a “conversation that is more appropriate to have on a bilateral basis” with member states than with EU institutions.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • EU intelligence agencies fed metadata to the NSA, says US senator (Photo: *n3wjack's world in pixels)

Metadata can show a person’s habits as it includes a broad sweep of information including browsing history, map searches, email activity and smart phone GPS data.

Documents leaked by Edward Snowden to the Guardian newspaper show that the National Security Agency (NSA) collects and stores the metadata of millions of people, even if they are not suspected of any crime.

“The record has shown that in most all instances, these metadata collection programmes are done in co-ordination with our European allies,” said Murphy.

He stopped short of naming the member states involved but noted that US reforms are underway that “would essentially end the collection of metadata.”

The metadata collection statements back up similar comments made in October by the US spy chief General Keith Alexander who heads the NSA and Dianne Feinstein, a senator chairing the intelligence committee.

Murphy, along with two other US congressmen, was in Berlin on Monday before heading to Brussels in an effort to restore stretched ties with EU partners.

Murphy told MEPs that many in Congress believe the US had crossed a line “in the way which we have conducted espionage because we know the trust that has been breached through the tapping of the [German] Chancellor’s phone”.

But he said existing bilateral agreements should not be tied to “resolution of many these issues.”

He cited Swift, which involves the transfer of bank data between the US and the EU, the EU-US passenger name record agreement, and the current free trade negotiations.

“You don’t need to deliver an additional message to the United States by compromising our collective security through the suspension of these agreements,” he said.

The senator said the US was open to new data privacy agreements to ensure “that European rights are respected when they are using websites in the United States.”

But he warned that placing additional restrictions on the EU-US data exchange agreement known as Safe Harbour would have economic downsides.

“No one will ultimately be helped, no economy will be assisted if we compartmentalise the Internet,” he said.

The Safe Harbour agreement allows US companies to operate in Europe without EU oversight.

After it emerged that the agreement was being abused, the EU threatened to suspend it. In a review due on Wednesday, the commission is set to say the agreement must be more transparent.

But in warning to Washington, the review is also expected to note that it could still go ahead and suspend the agreement if improvements in its use are not made.

Belgium's EU commission hopeful in free press row

Didier Reynders, Belgium's EU commissioner hopeful and foreign minister backed bill that could sentence whistle-blowers to five years in prison and fine journalists up to €5,000.

Stalling on VAT reform costing billions, says Commission

German media outlet Correctiv, along with other newsrooms, have revealed how criminals annually cheat EU states out of billions in VAT fraud. The EU Commission says solutions exist - but member states refuse to budge on tax unanimity.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Open Arms may face fine in Spain 
  2. Belgium's EU commission hopeful in free press row
  3. Conte turns on Salvini, as Italy prepares for change
  4. Nordic-German climate action signals broader alliance
  5. The EU committee's great 'per diem' charade
  6. Spain calls for legal action against Italy on migrants
  7. Trump to meet Greenland leader in Denmark
  8. Irish border plan is 'anti-democratic', Johnson tells EU

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us