US and Germany to enter no-spying agreement, German government says

The EU and the US should also accelerate data protection agreement talks, Chancellor Merkel said

The U.S. has verbally committed to enter into a no-spying agreement with Germany in the wake of disclosures about the U.S. National Security Agency's secret surveillance programs.

The verbal commitment was given in talks with the German Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst, BND), the sole foreign intelligence service of Germany, the German government said in a news release on Wednesday. This means that there must be no governmental or industrial espionage between the two countries, it said.

More common standards for the cooperation of E.U. intelligence services are in progress, the German government added. No further details about the agreement were given. The German Federal Ministry of the Interior reached on Monday could not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The no-spying agreement talks were announced as part of a progress report on an eight-point program proposed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in July with measures to better protect the privacy of German citizens. The plan was drafted "due to the current discussions about the work of the intelligence services," the German government said.

In the progress report, the German government found that U.S. intelligence services comply with German law. Also, the operators of large German Internet exchanges and the federal government did not find any evidence that the U.S. spies on Germans, the government said.

However, NSA spying revelations should lead to an acceleration of data protection agreement negotiations between the E.U. and the U.S., Merkel said in an interview on German radio on Tuesday evening.

The discussion about NSA data surveillance is also an opportunity to call for a strengthened European regulated privacy policy, the chancellor said, urging the E.U. to come to a unified privacy policy.

This might be hard to do though. Different E.U countries have different ideas about such a policy, she said. This also makes it difficult to come to a data protection agreement with the U.S.

A European Data Protection Directive should, for instance, require "that Internet companies that operate in Europe tell us if they provide information to other governments," Merkel said. But so far, there has been no consensus about this German plan in Europe, although France has already joined the German camp, she said.

It is also important to strengthen the European IT industry, Merkel said. Large data nodes now are solely made with equipment from Chinese and U.S. manufacturers, Merkel said, adding that she doubted that was a good idea. Therefore, along with the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, Merkel is looking for European partners so the E.U. can catch up technologically and be capable of independent action again, she said.

Despite the criticism of government surveillance programs, Merkel said people should not forget that intelligence agencies do important work to protect people in Germany as well as abroad. German information, for instance, can prevent attacks on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, while American data in turn can be used to protect the lives of German soldiers, she said.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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 governmentlegal

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

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

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.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?