EU Parliament Promises ‘In-Depth Inquiry’ Into US Surveillance

As Europe’s ire at US surveillance continues to grow, along with concerns about the eventual economic and social fallout, the EU Parliament has confirmed plans for an “in-depth inquiry” into PRISM and other spying allegations.

A resolution was passed on Thursday, tasking Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee with carrying out the investigation, the results of which will be released by the end of the year.

Surveillance probe

MEPs involved in the inquiry will recommend ways to shore up IT security across EU institutions, following claims the US had bugged European Union offices. That revelation has already put a transatlantic trade pact in danger of falling through.

Some have now called for data sharing deals with the US, which cover bank and air passenger information, to be suspended too.

Parliament has also expressed concern over reported surveillance programmes run by several EU member states, including  the UK, Sweden, The Netherlands, Germany and Poland.

And MEPs have called for greater protection for whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden, who has released troves of information on spying by US and other nation states.

Cloud impact

European Commission vice president Neelie Kroes has continued to voice her own concerns about reports of mass surveillance by the US National Security Agency (NSA).

In a speech yesterday, she questioned whether the revelations would damage the adoption of cloud services, given the impact on trust.

“If European cloud customers cannot trust the United States government or their assurances, then maybe they won’t trust US cloud providers either. That is my guess. And if I am right then there are multi-billion euro consequences for American companies,” Kroes said.

“If I were an American cloud provider, I would be quite frustrated with my government right now. I do not have an agenda here: I am committed to open markets, to liberal values, and the opportunities of new digital innovations. Yet even I am thinking twice about whether there is such a thing as a level playing field when it comes to the cloud.”

For whatever reason, Kroes did not speculate on the impact of allegations of widespread snooping by EU nations on the future of cloud.

Shhh!  Don’t look at our quiz on Whistleblowers and leaks!

Thomas Brewster

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

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