Pan-European network would help improve data security following recent NSA snooping allegations
German and French leaders are to meet this week to discuss the establishment of a European communications network in order to ensure information from the continent does not get intercepted by malicious outside forces.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the plans in her weekly podcast, saying that she planned to raise the issue in a meeting with French President Francois Hollande this week.
“We’ll talk with France about how we can maintain a high level of data protection,” she said. “Above all, we’ll talk about European providers that offer security for our citizens, so that one shouldn’t have to send emails and other information across the Atlantic. Rather, one could build up a communication network inside Europe.”
There is “no doubt” that Europe has to do more in the realm of data protection, she declared.
Following the revelations of mass spying from the US National Security Agency (NSA) from whistleblower Edward Snowden, there have been increased calls for better data protection inside of Europe.
Snowden revealed that Mrs Merkel’s phone was apparently tapped by the NSA for most of the last decade as part of its surveillance plan, leading to widespread outrage in Germany and throughout Europe as a whole.
Last month, Merkel warned the US and UK about the accusations of mass spying, saying that such surveillance “sows distrust” amongst allies, whilst suggesting they were hacking other nations for economic advantage, not just for national security.
“A programme in which the end justifies all means, in which everything that is technically possible is then acted out, violates trust and spreads mistrust,” she said. “In the end, it produces not more but less security.”
Recent polls suggested that these allegations have led ordinary Germans to lose confidence in the US as a trustworthy partner, with a majority also regarding Mr Snowden as a hero. Snooping by the government is a particularly sensitive subject in Germany due to the heavy surveillance of citizens practised in both communist East Germany and under the Nazi regime.
Washington has denied it monitored Chancellor Merkel’s personal phone, insisting its surveillance practices are focused on threats to national security. Merkel compared the spying to that of the Stasi secret police and accused the US of a grave breach of trust. President Obama has said that the NSA would stop spying on allied leaders as part of reforms to the surveillance operations of the US, yet has given no timeframe for the changes as yet.
Mr Hollande’s office confirmed the governments had been discussing the matter and said Paris agreed with Berlin’s proposals. “Now that the German government is formed, it is important that we take up the initiative together,” an official said.
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