The latest sign of the international backlash over President Obama's sweeping electronic surveillance programs.
The Socialists had this to say:
Germans accuse U.S. of Stasi
tactics before Obama visit. Germany’s Interior Ministry said it had already been in contact with U.S. officials to determine whether there had been any infringement of German citizens’ privacy — considered an almost-sacred right in a country with a history of deep privacy infringements under Nazi
and East German governments. In Germany, privacy regulations are especially strict. "The more a society monitors, controls and observes its citizens, the less free it is. Such behavior is neither anchored in German law, nor has it been judged acceptable by the Constitutional Court. Therefore, one has to assume that basic rights, especially the right to data protection, are worth less in the US than in Europe. You can also rely on German companies and authorities to be more law-abiding."
The Free State of Bavaria
Markus Ferber, member of the European Parliament for Bavaria accuses Washington of using "American-style Stasi methods.
I thought this era had ended when the DDR fell," he said, using the German initials for the failed German Democratic Republic.
Interestingly, it was the assurances the US President gave to the American people this weekend that seemed to infuriate the European lawmakers the most. The PRISM programme “does not apply to US citizens and it does not apply to people living the United States,” he told a press conference on 7 June. If they aren't spying on Americans' internet use, then that means they are spying on people in other countries - including allies in Europe. “What is coming from other side of the Atlantic is very worrying because they are justifying this system by saying it is not applicable to US citizens, only to foreigners,” declared Belgian Liberal MEP Guy Verhofstadt in Strasbourg this morning.“Who are the foreigners? I think we are the foreigners, the Europeans.”
He went on to say, "What's most disturbing about this is the pretence of counter-terrorism or the pretence of the war on terror or the pretence of even proper cause is not even in this. It's 'we just need the data'."
David Blunkett has urged the government to review the law on the oversight of intelligence agencies in order to strengthen ministerial scrutiny of information on UK citizens provided by US intelligence agencies. "Can we take a closer look at how other agencies, including the National Security Agency and our friends and colleagues in the US, use material gathered from network and service providers, and offer it, rather than having it sought from them, in a way that makes authorisation extremely difficult?" William Hague, the foreign secretary, insisted British laws did not allow for "indiscriminate trawling" for information.
President Vladimir Putin said, “I can tell you that at least in Russia, you cannot just go and tap into someone's phone without a warrant issued by court. ... That's more or less the way a civilized society should go about fighting terrorism with modern-day technology.”
The leader of the Socialists and Democrats Group, Hannes Swoboda said "data protection is an integral part of every citizen's right to privacy. We will not accept any government or company simply ignoring this right." He demanded that the EU provide full disclosure on the on the data surveillance connected to the PRISM case. "If any European government was aware in spying on EU citizens' data, this must have the most serious repercussions," warned the leader.
“Democracies around the world struggle to defend themselves against terrorism without at the same time undermining the very freedoms which they value and which they are willing to fight to protect."
Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart’s office issued a statement Monday saying developments in the U.S. and here have raised “significant concerns” about the scope of information being collected. Stoddart acknowledged that at this stage she, too, is at a loss to really know whether any lines have been crossed.
U.S. surveillance have also caused anxiety in many other countries including Australia and New Zealand - Sorry, I got a little tired...