European commissioner demands Prism answers from US attorney general

Commissioner wants answers by Friday

Europe's justice commissioner has given the U.S. attorney general until Friday to explain how far the so-called Prism program went in collecting European citizens' data.

In a strongly-worded letter Commissioner Viviane Reding demanded to know what U.S. authorities are doing with Europeans' personal information collected as part of the Prism program, under which the U.S. government is said to have access to user data on Internet services supplied by Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple and Skype.

Although the full text of the letter has not been published, Reding's office confirmed on Wednesday that it asked Attorney General Eric Holder how much surveillance the U.S. is conducting under the Prism program, whether private individuals are targeted, whether the surveillance involves issues beyond national security, under what laws the surveillance is conducted and how European citizens might find out if they've been targeted or their data collected.

Reding also wants to know what rights of redress European citizens will have if they have been spied on, and whether they would be treated similarly to U.S. citizens in such cases.

In the letter, Reding said she wants concrete answers to her questions when she meets Holder in Dublin on Friday at a pre-arranged event.

The commissioner also warned the attorney general that this issue could have an impact on the upcoming trans-Atlantic trade talks on TTIP (the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership).

Reding is said to be very angry about the Prism revelations. "European citizens should be able to trust 100 per cent that companies collecting and processing their personal data will abide by European law," she said Wednesday on Twitter.

However, Swedish member of the European Parliament (MEP) Christian Engström accused the European Commission of failing to take the Prism revelations seriously and said that "it's not really news, in a sense that it was unexpected, but it's great that we now have more proof that this is actually happening."

He added that he hoped the outrage provoked by the revelations would help strengthen the European data protection rules currently going through Parliament.

Meanwhile, Dutch MEP Sophie in't Veld said that if necessary a special committee should be set up to inquire further into the matter. Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge called for the European Union to revoke the U.S.' safe harbor status and to cancel current data sharing agreements such as Swift for financial transactions and PNR (passenger name records).

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is also likely to raise the issue with U.S. President Barack Obama when he visits Berlin next week.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentsecurityprivacyregulationeuropean commissionGovernment use of IT

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?