loose-talk

US President Barack Obama is in Europe this week, presenting European leaders with numerous opportunities for a quick “selfie” with the Leader of the Free World. Officially, Mr Obama will be taking part in talks for the third Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, as well as meetings with G7, NATO and EU leaders to discuss US-EU trade talks and the ongoing situation in Ukraine. Unofficially, the whirlwind tour of Europe by Mr Obama is widely seen as an attempt to woo back European leaders, who felt ignored and taken for granted during Obama’s first term and have been upset by the recent NSA spying scandal.

US-EU relations have certainly been bruised by allegations of systematic digital espionage. In an effort to reassure voters, the main parties in the European Parliament will all be campaigning on strengthening EU data protection rules, and each of them has made sure to mention online privacy in their election manifestos. The  Centre-Right say they want to “ensure data protection as a human right” whereas the  Social Democrats hope to promote “solid EU legislation on the protection of citizens’ personal data and access to information”.

Traditionally, the  Greens and the  Liberal Democrats have both been strong on the issue of digital privacy, and both parties have put forward policies in their manifestos that they believe would improve security for EU citizens online. The  Greens would like to “guarantee online liberties through a digital Bill of Rights to protect privacy, personal data and net neutrality”, whilst the  Liberal Democrats say they will “strive for a common cybersecurity policy, which will improve the ability of our member states to protect our privacy and economy”. Are you convinced? Don’t forget to vote for the party whose views on digital privacy you support in our Debating Europe Vote 2014!

We had a comment sent in by Lillie on American and European attitudes to privacy. She argued that privacy is considered a human right in Europe but a consumer right in the US. When we put this comment to Indrek Tarand, an Estonian MEP who sits with the  Greens in the European Parliament, he argued that Europeans should be more concerned by Russian and Chinese spying:

You have to consider that I’m a veteran of a Cold War, so for me US spying cannot be a bigger problem than Chinese or Russian spying. And, here in the Parliament, unfortunately, we always speak about the US but tend to forget that other big powers are doing the same.

We also took Lillie’s comment to Paul Nemitz, the Director for Fundamental Rights and Citizenship at DG Justice at the European Commission, who we interviewed during the CPDP conference in January. He thinks that US and European attitudes towards privacy are different, but that they can be reconciled as long as the US is willing to accept tougher rules.

There are some (including among our commenters) who argue that it is naive for Europeans to think that the US is the only power spying on citizens, while others (particularly in Britain) believe it was irresponsible for journalists to publish details that might put national security at risk. When we spoke to Marjetje Schaake, a Dutch MEP who sits with the  Liberal Democrats and has worked extensively on issues of data protection and privacy, we asked her about intelligence leaks and the role of journalists.

Finally, we had a comment sent in by Joe arguing that it was time for the EU to immediately revoke the current “Safe Harbour” agreement with the US, which allows companies to export data from Europe to servers in the US as long as they have been certified as providing adequate levels of protection. We spoke to Birgit Sippel, a German MEP with the  Social Democrats, and asked her how she would respond:

sippelYes, the EU should immediately revoke the current “Safe Harbour” mechanism, because it cannot be considered as “safe” any longer. Since its entry into force in the year 2000, the “Safe Harbour” regime has been the object of constant criticism, for example as regards the rights of EU data subjects under US law. In addition, in the context of the NSA affair, it was revealed that US intelligence services have direct access to data stored with companies that are supposed to be “safe” since they are certified under the “Safe Harbour” mechanism. The Commission itself has acknowledged the urgent need for reform. I am therefore pleased that the request for suspension of the “Safe Harbour” rules is also mentioned in the NSA report that was voted in the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee on 12 February and shall be endorsed by the plenary in March 2014.

Would the European Commission be receptive to the idea of suspending the “Safe Harbour” mechanism with the US? We asked Paul Nemitz from the Commission to respond:

Are Europeans so focused on US spying that they forget other powers are doing the same? Should we be more worried about Chinese and Russian spying than the NSA scandal? And can European and American attitudes to privacy be reconciled? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

Vote 2014

Voting is closed in our Debating Europe Vote 2014! The results are now in, so come and see what our readers thought!




41 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Ivan Bilokapić

    European countries need to leave NATO, forma united European army and have it’s own policies and intelligence, independent and free from the US

  2. avatar
    Oliver H

    A false argument, because no one does think that Russians and Chinese do not spy on us. Quite the contrary. We know very well that is the case and have used resources to curb it as much as is possible. German counterintelligence, small as it is, specifically stated that they have been active in that direction all the time.

    The issue is NOT that others, specifically Russia and China would not do it. The issue is that we do what we can to protect us from their efforts – we would not have thought that is also necessary of a nation which is an ally and which we host within our country and jointly operate with. Evidently, that is not the case and additional taxpayer money will have to be wasted to pay for efforts to force the US not to abuse our hospitality.

  3. avatar
    James McManama

    The French, Germans and Brits are ALL spying on each other, on the US, and on the Chinese and Russians. Everybody spies, not just the Yanks…

  4. avatar
    Gerard Francois

    How come the NSA never saw Putin’s getting ready to invade Crimea? Was Snowden recruited to leak the codes?

  5. avatar
    sub_stitute

    Merkel’s suspicious and aggressive ambition to get closer to gas/oil pumpjacks raised a fair amount of concern from everybody, not just US, Russia or China. Brazil or India might be worried too.

  6. avatar
    Javier Sánchez

    Europeans are not concerned about anything. Only what the US does matters because, you know, they’re the US. If China or Russia are spying on you, robbing you, burning your house, spanking your mother, screwing your daughter, whatever, it doesn’t matter. They’re the enemies of the US, so they’re the good boys, they’re 99% lovers or something. You know, crimes are only crimes when the US and EU are involved.

  7. avatar
    Al.

    How do you expect the average person to know an answer to this question? Only people who work in the field of ‘intelligence’ will have some idea.

  8. avatar
    Holger Michael Brk

    spying is as old as mankind. we need to improve our data security. that’ s all! it would be really desastrous for all of us if we let the western world disunite over this

  9. avatar
    Talis Briedis

    Russians have infiltrated all levels of EU. Tatjana ?danoka is a perfect example of that. The remnants of occupying forces in Latvia (Russians) elected her to EU Parliament. Now is trying to force Putins agenda onto the EU. (A submissionhas been filed to the Latvian General prosecutor to investigate ?danoka for crimes of treason). EU opened it’s doors hoping for a friendly Russia,only tofind out not much has changed since the cold war. Time to close those doors to fascist Russia.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      At this moment, I have to agree.

  10. avatar
    Ana Georgieva

    USA are not only spying they have gone too far and the most rediculous thing is people world wide except this as something normal.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Ana Georgieva
      Please refrain from taking mind-altering substances prior to posting as it may give the impression that you are an EFF-WIT, as in this case!

  11. avatar
    Paul X

    There seems to be a blurring of issues here between political espionage and individuals being “spied” on, for example on the internet

    Spying between countries has gone on for hundreds of years and to be honest should be of little concern for the average person on the street, leave it to the James Bonds of the world it’s their little game

    With regards to governments “spying” on citizens to be honest who really cares unlesss you have something to hide?

    A certain mentality of person loves nothing more than to get up in arms about their “civil liberty” being infringed but conveniently forgets the fact that monitoring peoples activity does a lot to counter illegal activity by terrorists and paedophiles

    Personally I coundn’t care less if the authorities choose to monitor my e-mails they won’t find anything scandalous and to be honest if by monitoring everyones online activity helps keep our streets free of perverts and terrorists then I’m all for it

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      @Paul X:

      On this last post of yours I have to say I’m surprised at the ignorance of such comments. If you believe it doesn’t matter because you are innocent of wrong doing and that you accept that spying keeps you safe, then what you are accepting in the possibility and probability of being framed, at any time, for something that suits the State at any given time. Would you feel so relaxed at this intrusion if it was the Nazi’s doing it? And if the answer to that is, you would not, then you are naive by believing that at any given time the US and any other privacy intruder, would not do what the Hitler mob did. Because they would and have done just that already. What do you think this affair in the Ukraine is? An innocent bunch of American, British and EU leaders who simply stumbled on their targets and didn’t know what they were doing when they gave the orders to cause unrest. And within that unrest, do you really believe they would not have used any means to target their quarry?

      The US having the NSA is a seriously dangerous technology for us all. Why do you think they wanted it kept secret and as a result of Snowden they want to get him and deal with him as a traitor. What we actually say and write and what can be construed from it can be altered in the flick of a button, as it was suggested was done to some photographs and footage from the Ukraine and other places. Are you so blind you cannot see what is going on across the planet from Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Egypt, Palestine and now in the centre of our own continent?

      The Germans and the Europeans as a whole must be extremely cautious indeed. I saw a Larry King Politicking show with an American official who openly stated they have no intention of getting out of anywhere they fought for, regardless of how the countries they occupy feel about it. He cited Germany saying, have we left Germany, have we left Japan, have we left Vietnam, no, and we have no intention of doing so, ever. And it is good for them.’ King and the other interviewee were stunned, mouth dropping to the floor, the same American then said, ‘why do you not believe that, where do you think your mobile phones were made? Don’t you know you wouldn’t have them if we were not in there controlling what goes on?’

      http://rt.com/shows/politicking-larry-king/william-cohen-ukrainian-crisis-634/

      I have put this link up because for some reason these videos of the show were removed from our sight. And all you will see is a blank page. The guy, I assume was censored for what he revealed to the world on that programme. That the US intentionally will never leave the countries they take over. To belive otherwise is naive in the extreme. And Germany is one of them that it regards as its colony, as is Vietnam and Japan. Even though it had to leave Vietnam prior to it being considered conquered. Some kind of deal with money was made to them and so there they are for the ‘benefit’ of the people. Do they also feel they are a benefit to Germany and Japan? And do they feel they have to listen secretly to the European leaders to make sure they are doing what they are told, regardless of whether what they are being told to do is in the best interests of the peoples of that country?

      As far as Russia and China where spying is concerned, do you believe they are as advanced with the technology of the US to do this. Do you believe they have an NSA with as much access to information? Does all of the internet practice go through China or the USA? Google and yahoo are forced to submit to US infiltration, it is in their contract to do so. The UK census and everything else we have on paper, like our health records and any other government records as well as police records, are stored in the US, not China or Russia. And the US and the British are in collusion with Europe to hold people in prison for years without trial. Even when they know full well those they hold are innocent of the crime they are accused of before arrest, as they don’t want publicity on their secret courts and arrests as well as compensation for such horrors to be known of. What makes you think you would be any different from those innocent men Paul?.

      When will you people ever learn not to trust those who betray you and lie to you. And more despise you and your way of life as it is beyond their ability to understand it. How can Europe accept this infringement on their freedom as it does? However, Europe knows as well as I do, getting free of this band of madmen is not going to be easy under any circumstances, the threat of financial ruin (Russia, Cuba, Etc..) should they try, is paramount to their remaining hostage.

      If this trade agreement is signed we, as Europeans, are done for. Enslaved to the company store for eternity with no way out. And this spying is a part of the manacle that holds us.

      http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/25/house-nsa-bill-end-bulk-collection-act-reform

  12. avatar
    ironworker

    @Paul X
    “Who really cares unlesss you have something to hide?”

    : ) Ironically, same hardcore neocon rhetoric was extensively used from the late ’40’s until late ’80’s behind the wrong side of Iron Curtain. R. Nixon and Watergate ring a bell ? G.W.Bush and his “War on Terror” happy trigger redneck texan horse s__t doctrine too. That’s against any democratic principle , but you don’t have to believe me. It will be put to a vote sooner or later. Rather sooner.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      My point exactly…who was affected by Watergate?…certainly not me or 99.99999% of the general population. Famous people generally benefit from their exposure in the public eye so the down side for them is they need to be squeeky clean

      So assuming I’m not famous or up to anything illegal tell me in simple terms how I’m going to suffer if I’m being spied on?…as I said, it doesn’t affect me personally so I really couldn’t care less.

      The UK has CCTV everywhere, I’m sure the internet is monitored for particular words/phrases…so are mobile networks probably.. as far as I know I haven’t had my post steamed open yet but tbh even if it was there is nothing very interesting in it…….there isn’t enough hours in the day for “Big Brother” to read every e-mail or listen to every conversation made by Joe Public but we can assume we are electronically monitored in some way every minute of the day……..accept it and get over it……… we live in a safer country because of it

      People who whine on about civil liberties are generally those who have nothing in their life except looking for things to whine about

  13. avatar
    Oliver H

    @Paul X

    Quite the contrary – people who claim they have nothing to hide have never done anything meaningful in their lives. They are just mindless puppets incapable of any original thought – because if they had an original thought, it would be worthy of protection. You are you going to suffer if you are being spied on? By someone patenting your invention and making you redundant that way, for example. But you’d have to be innovative for that to happen, and all you are evidently capable of doing is nodding at everything that comes your way.

    It is funny even that you talk about people whining about civil liberties – evidently, you do not understand that there are countries which have constitutions, constitutions that are binding for state agencies. If you believe you live in a safer country through dismantling of constitutions, there are hundreds of thousands of British soldiers who died in vain.

  14. avatar
    Paul X

    “people who claim they have nothing to hide have never done anything meaningful in their lives”
    ……….or maybe they are just law abiding citizens with no skeletons in their closet who does not send hate mail or share illegal pornographic images or plot terrorist activities or civil unrest over the net?

    The internet is rife with idiots that do the above and if you think that peoples “civil liberty” to not have their data monitored should get in the way of upholding the law then you have a warped sense of priorities.

    …….and when I do create my career defining invention the last thing I will be doing is transmitting it in any format before I have filed my own patent…..I have what’s called common and know not to send anything sensitive over the (unsecure) WWW

  15. avatar
    Sabina Ene

    US be like: We are sorry we couldn’t keep secrets, that’s all we’ll apologize for…

  16. avatar
    Trond Johannessen

    Why do you have to put spying in different boxes or creating a ranking? You are politicizing a matter that is clear: spy against us and we cut your delicate parts off if you enter our territory.

    There is no such thing as “friendly spying”.

  17. avatar
    Paul X

    Catherine, in my first post on this thread I commented that it seemed to lump together two different issues, international spying (James Bond stuff) and individuals right to privacy or as it quotes “guarantee online liberties”

    My point is regarding the latter and my opinion is I couldn’t care less if someone eave-drops on my online activities because there is nothing for them to gain from it and I would still question why some people feel so strongly against it unless they have something to hide?
    Likewise all the “big brother” complaints about CCTV?, if you are not up to some criminal act then how does a camera watching you while you do your shopping actually do you any harm?…. I just see it as people complaining for the sake of complaining

    I also fail to see the relevance of you referring to innocent people being arrested and held without trial? If the authorities want to falsify some charges against me and lock me up then it doesn’t really matter what they have learned from monitoring my activities, they would just do it irrespective of what their “spying” has revealed

  18. avatar
    Oliver H

    “or maybe they are just law abiding citizens with no skeletons in their closet who does not send hate mail or share illegal pornographic images or plot terrorist activities or civil unrest over the net?”

    Even such people have things to hide. Better luck next time.

    “The internet is rife with idiots that do the above and if you think that peoples “civil liberty” to not have their data monitored should get in the way of upholding the law then you have a warped sense of priorities.”

    The internet is also rife with idiots who will happily sign away their rights wholesale and believe the moon is made of cheese whenever someone looking like an authority figure tells them so.

    “…….and when I do create my career defining invention the last thing I will be doing is transmitting it in any format before I have filed my own patent…..I have what’s called common and know not to send anything sensitive over the (unsecure) WWW”

    no, you haven’t, you just got fired by your company for not sending the details of the invention to the HQ. It’s not your job to file your own patent, they have a patent department for that which knows how to file patents to that they cannot be challenged. As you demonstrated yourself unwilling to fulfill your contractual obligations, you were given your papers and escorted out.

    You seriously believe that inventions are made in garage shops only?

    Get a life.

    “My point is regarding the latter and my opinion is I couldn’t care less if someone eave-drops on my online activities because there is nothing for them to gain from it and I would still question why some people feel so strongly against it unless they have something to hide?”

    A)Because they have rights?
    B)Because there is not a person who does NOT have something to hide, and your claims to the contrary are dishonest and hypocritical. If you believed that, you would post here with your full name and address. You would also have no hesitation to post your credit card number and medical history. What do you have to hide?

    “I also fail to see the relevance of you referring to innocent people being arrested and held without trial? If the authorities want to falsify some charges against me and lock me up then it doesn’t really matter what they have learned from monitoring my activities, they would just do it irrespective of what their “spying” has revealed”

    But with the spying, they can make it quite a bit more credible for the courts.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      Erm… wrong on the patent issue, every patent has a named inventor and it is their job to fill out the patent, it is them who knows how the invention works not the patent lawyers . The company patent department checks for any existing patents that it may infringe and advises on the wording of the document
      ….and If you invent something as part of your job and do it in company time it belongs to the company and you will probably get nothing for it except a pat on the back…

      ……The only invention that will make you any money is one you come up with yourself, in your own time and yes probably in your garage and you make damn sure nothing about it gets out to the public until you have registered it with a patent lawyer or else you lose the right to patent it

  19. avatar
    Oliver H

    “Erm… wrong on the patent issue, every patent has a named inventor and it is their job to fill out the patent, ”

    Erm, wrong. Most patents have half a dozen named inventors or more, most of which are not even sitting in the same location.

    ” it is them who knows how the invention works not the patent lawyer”

    They, however, know nothing as to how to formulate claims – which is the key part of the patent, NOT how it works.

    ” The company patent department checks for any existing patents that it may infringe and advises on the wording of the document”

    They advise on the wording of the claims.

    “….and If you invent something as part of your job and do it in company time it belongs to the company and you will probably get nothing for it except a pat on the back…”

    Yes, you will: Another paycheck. You, on the other hand, prefer to be fired, evidently.

    “……The only invention that will make you any money is one you come up with yourself, in your own time and yes probably in your garage and you make damn sure nothing about it gets out to the public until you have registered it with a patent lawyer or else you lose the right to patent it”

    False. But thanks for making it clear that you give a crap about people working in industry.

  20. avatar
    Nikolaos Sotirelis

    I love when you are trolling! The “Big Brother” ain’t so far away. The biggest threat is in front of us. When EU spies its own citizens!

  21. avatar
    jthk

    When Europe’s strongest and biggest ally, the US has been spying all over the world including political leaders of allied countries like Angela Merkel, Europeans are not worry. Why do Europeans are worrying spies from Russia and China? When countries forming alliance uniquely for national interests, I do not see why the US spy activities in Europe are less threatening than that of Russia and China, particularly when Trump has unshamefully been shouting “American First” and action has also been done to harm Europe by waging a trade war against its European allies and telling Macron to leave EU. At least, Russia and China not appear to have any action to break up EU.

Your email will not be published

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Notify me of new comments. You can also subscribe without commenting.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies on your device as described in our Privacy Policy unless you have disabled them. You can change your cookie settings at any time but parts of our site will not function correctly without them.