US slams Europe plan for anti-spying network as unfair

US slams Europe plan for anti-spying network as unfair
Sat Apr 5, 2014 22:22:13

US officials have blasted European plans to construct an EU-centric communication system, designed to prevent emails and phone calls from being swept up by the American spy agency NSA, warning that the move is a violation of trade laws.

Calling Europe’s proposal to build its own integrated communication system “draconian,” the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) stated on Friday that American tech companies, which are worth an estimated $8 trillion per year, would take a financial hit if Brussels gives the initiative the green light.

"Recent proposals from countries within the European Union to create a Europe-only electronic network (dubbed a 'Schengen cloud' by advocates) or to create national-only electronic networks could potentially lead to effective exclusion or discrimination against foreign service suppliers that are directly offering network services, or dependent on them," the USTR said in its annual report cited by RT’s website on Saturday.

In the aftermath of Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing efforts at the National Security Agency (NSA), which proved that much of the world’s telecommunication meta-data is being stored away in the United States, European countries – notably Germany and France - are desperate to get a handle on their own networks without relying on an intrusive middleman.

Germany’s outrage over the revelations hit full stride last month when major German news magazine Der Spiegel asked if it is “time for the country to open a formal espionage investigation” following yet more disclosures that Britain's GCHQ infiltrated German internet companies and the NSA collected information about (German Chancellor Angela) “Merkel in a special database.”

Now, US trade officials are up in arms over proposals by Germany's Deutsche Telekom (in which the German government owns less than 30 percent), to avoid passing communications to the United States, saying the move would give European companies an unfair advantage over their US colleagues.

If the European-centric plan gets the go ahead, it would require the dismantlement of the Safe Harbor agreement that allows US companies access to European data. It should be noted that despite the work of the NSA, Europe has some of the strictest privacy laws in the world.

Much like the EU, Canada has concerns over its dependence on US for routing telecommunications, with some 90 percent of all Canadian internet traffic going through the US. The Canadian Internet Registration Authority proposed in October 2013 building up domestic infrastructure, which would change this and protect the data from potential NSA snooping.

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