German chancellor Angela Merkel has thrown her weight behind calls for online firms to be more transparent about how they are using personal data, and said she will push for tougher European laws to protect personal information on the Internet.
According to some sources, this could lead to the German authorities beefing up their support for the EU Data Protection Regulation, which is currently making very slow progress in Brussels. There have even been doubts about whether it will ever see the light of day.
Merkel’s comments come after revelations about the US Prism online surveillance programme, which linked top US firms such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft to accusation of snooping.
Earlier this month, German publication Der Spiegel quoted the documents – leaked by Edward Snowden – as revealing that the US taps half a billion phone calls, emails and text messages in Germany a month. On an average day, the US National Security Agency (NSA) monitored about 20 million German phone connections and 10 million internet datasets, rising to 60 million phone connections on busy days, the report said.
In an interview on BBC TV, Merkel called for a clear commitment from the US government that in future they will stick to German law, and said her government would take a “very strict position” in ongoing talks on European data rules.
Privacy campaigners have already seized on the Prism scandal to launch a stinging attack on those trying to water down the proposed new EU data laws, potentially scuppering the lobbying gains of the UK marketing industry.
Prism-gate row: now Sorrell wades in
EU chiefs calm fears over opt-in
Prism-gate may scupper EU data war
Prism row engulfs marketing data
New delay fuels EU data warning
Clock ticks on EU after new delay
EU: ‘Don’t panic, don’t panic’ – ICO
EU data laws ‘may never be passed’
Sceptics blast EU consent claims
Industry hails EU ‘extra time’
EU data laws enter the ‘hot phase’
EU data law: ‘It’s the DMA wot won it’
Does anyone give a toss about DM?
MEPs pass 900 amendments to data laws