• France's news in English

French agency demands EU probe into US spying

AFP/The Local · 19 Aug 2013, 17:20

Published: 19 Aug 2013 17:20 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

France's CNIL agency said on Monday that European data protection agencies "consider they should evaluate the exact impact of the PRISM programme on the privacy and data of European citizens," and have written to the European Commission for its help to get information from the United States.

Revelations about PRISM and other programmes by the US National Security Agency (NSA) to capture and store personal information gleaned from emails, phone calls and web searches have sparked outrage in Europe, especially after tech giants such as Google and Facebook were implicated.

The revelations threatened the start last month of crucial EU-US free trade talks, but Europe agreed to go ahead with the negotiations after a joint working group was formed to investigate the spying.

In a letter to European Commission Vice President Viviane Reding, the agencies said the "collection of and access by the American intelligence community to data on non-US persons are of great concern to the international data protection community."

Despite some clarifications from Washington, "many questions as to the consequences of these intelligence programmes remain," it said.

It said the agencies had a duty to "assess independently to what extent the protection provided by EU data protection legislation is at risk and possibly breached" by the US intelligence-gathering programme.

Reding, who is also the EU's  justice commissioner, said last month the EU was determined to deliver new European data protection laws in the wake of the revelations.

European sources have said governments' anger over the data surveillance is genuine, following reports of widespread spying on Washington's European allies.

Snowden, a 30-year-old former NSA contractor, received asylum in Russia on August 1st, after spending more than five weeks stranded in a Moscow airport avoiding extradition to the United States.

He is wanted by Washington on espionage charges linked to his media disclosures about the secret details of the US surveillance programmes.

US President Barack Obama has defended the spy programmes as a "modest encroachment" on privacy necessary to keep Americans safe.

Story continues below…

French officials, however, including President François Hollande, have responded angrily to revelations that the NSA had spied on its embassy in Washington D.C.

In July, two French rights organisations vowed to file suit in France, in order to discover whether US-based giants like Facebook, Google and Yahoo had played a role in the electronic surveillance. 

At the time, the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and the French League of Human Rights (LDH) attacked the mass surveillance of global communications by US intelligence services that was carried out "under the guise of the fight against terrorism and organised crime".

"This uncontrolled intrusion into people's lives is a significant threat to individual liberties and must be curbed at the risk of seeing the rule of law disappear," the groups said in a joint statement.

AFP/The Local (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

French claims that Jungle camp is empty are rubbished
Photo: AFP

Reports from the scene say scores of migrants are still in the area of the Jungle despite French authorities claiming "mission fulfilled."

Kidnapped Riviera millionaire left tied up in car boot in Nice
Photo: AFP

Head of luxury Cannes hotel has been found alive after being kidnapped in Nice on Monday.

Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents
Photo: Panoramas/Flickr

... and it's tenants in the smaller apartments that get hit the hardest. Could you be paying too much?

France takes baby steps to make life simpler
Photo: AFP

... including extending the ridiculously short time limit for registering a new baby.

IN PICTURES: Calais Jungle camp goes up in flames
All Photos: AFP

Migrants leave behind a scorched camp as they are moved to locations across France.

French expats in UK suffer Brexit abuse
French ambassador to the UK Sylvie Bermann with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Photo: AFP

French nationals no longer feel at home in the UK, ambassador says. But Brits in France have been greeted with sympathy since the referendum.

Six to go on trial in France over topless Kate photos
Photo: AFP

The topless pics sparked fury among the royals.

France sees biggest drop in jobless rate for 20 years
Photo: AFP

Good news at last. But it's unlikely to keep President Fran├žois Hollande in his job.

Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available