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France urges EU privacy rules amid NSA scandal

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AFP/The Local - [email protected]
France urges EU privacy rules amid NSA scandal
France will press the EU for new rules of data privacy after claims on Monday that US spy agency NSA taped tens of millions of French phone calls. Photo: Safwat Sayed

France will press for new Europe-wide data privacy rules at an EU summit this week, said Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. The call comes after new and "shocking" claims on Monday that US spy agency the NSA taped "70 million" French phone calls in just one month.

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French President François Hollande "will ask the European Union to settle the question of data privacy," Fabius said after Paris reacted angrily to reports that the US National Security Agency (NSA) secretly monitored tens of millions of phone calls in France.

Already on the agenda of the summit, on Thursday and Friday, is Europe's digital future, but Fabius said that while the economic reasoning for this was important, "it is not possible to develop [Europe's] digital sphere without protecting personal data."

The latest spying allegations leaked by former US security contractor Edward Snowden, published in French daily Le Monde and German weekly Der Spiegel, also claimed that the NSA hacked into former Mexican President Felipe Calderon's email account.

The data privacy component in the EU's digital agenda has so far been focused on major web organisations like Google or Facebook.

France on Monday summoned the US ambassador over the issue, which overshadowed a visit to Paris by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Paris was entitled to feel outraged.

"I understand the outrage and the anger in France at spying actions wholeheartedly – that is not how it should work between partners, between friends," he said.

"It is important that everything will be clarified," he told reporters in Luxembourg. "That concerns France, that concerns other countries and especially Germany."

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