MEPs on Tuesday slammed the US government over reports that the country’s Security Agency had been snooping on EU citizen’s information and called for tougher online regulations.
The scandal comes after whistleblower Ed Snowden revealed last week that the US authorities had tapped the servers of internet companies for personal data.
‘The Commission is asking for clear commitments from the United States as to the respect of the fundamental right of EU citizens to data protection and as to access to judicial redress in the same way as it is afforded to United States residents’, said EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy Tonio Borg.
‘This is about the rule of law and about democracy because both of them are not in line with mass surveillance. They cannot be in line with mass surveillance of citizens, of people all around the world and so we need to stand up here to say clearly ‘mass surveillance is not what we want to have and we need strong data protection rules!”, said Greens/EFA German MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht.
According to documents leaked to the media, US officials had access to emails, web chats and other communications from companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and Skype.
The European Parliament called on the EU’s justice commissioner Viviane Reding to demand clarifications over the scandal as she meets US attorney general Eric Holder next Thursday in Dublin.
‘The Commission will raise this matter with United States authorities at the earliest possible opportunity, it will request clarifications as to whether access to personal data within the framework of the present program is limited to individual cases and based on concrete suspicions or if it allows bulk transfers of data’, said EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy Tonio Borg.
‘I don’t know if you have listened to the statement of Barack Obama when he was addressing the American audience who was worried. He said “Don’t worry! We are not spying on American citizens. We are only spying on foreigners.” Foreigners! So that’s us. That’s European citizens! So what kind of a special relationship is that? And over the last 12 years Europe has bent over backwards to be the closest ally of the Americans in the fight against terrorist’, said ALDE Dutch MEP Sophia Int’veld.
The controversy comes as Europe and the US are about to launch transatlantic trade talks.