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Obama Administration Convinced EU to Drop Measure That Would Have Blocked NSA Spying

World  (tags: PRISM, FISA, Europe, EU, internet, spying, surveillance, US govt., EU legislation article 42 )

- 2104 days ago -
Senior officials in the Obama administration successfully lobbied the European Union's executive body to drop an "anti-FISA clause" from its privacy legislation over a year ago, the Financial Times reports.


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Angelika R (143)
Friday June 14, 2013, 4:32 pm
Senior officials in the Obama administration successfully lobbied the European Union’s executive body to drop an “anti-FISA clause” from its privacy legislation over a year ago, the Financial Times reports. That measure, if adopted, could have blocked the U.S. requests for European citizens’ computer and telephone data that are made as part of the just-revealed PRISM program.

The measure was dropped from consideration in January 2012, after debate within the European Union, according to the British newspaper. Its name is a reference to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a U.S. law that allows it to monitor foreign communications. The wider privacy legislation is pending.

The Financial Times story may help shed light on the remarkable outrage that the PRISM revelations have drawn from a number of European leaders. The reaction has been particularly severe in Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to raise the issue directly with President Obama, and one lawmaker compared it to East Germany’s infamous Stasi secret police. Surely much of this is driven by public outrage in Europe. But it’s easy to see how European leaders who knew about the U.S. effort to remove the “anti-FISA clause” might be feeling particularly betrayed.

The Financial Times says that Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and top commerce department lawyer Cameron Kerry, whose brother happens to be Secretary of State John Kerry, both visited Brussels to lobby European Union officials. “White House officials were making the rounds here and especially targeting commissioners who have close relationships to the US to get them to remove Article 42,” an EU official told the paper, referring to the “anti-FISA clause” by its official name.

Ultimately, the European Union was persuaded to drop the rule, apparently out of fear that it might complicate a proposed trade deal between the U.S. and EU and that the rule would in any case be too difficult to enforce, as most tech companies that would provide the data are in the United States.

Computer privacy can be a sensitive issue in Europe, particularly Germany, where U.S. tech companies are treated with a touch more suspicion than they are at home. Tech giants such as Google have become politically unpopular in France for their perceived violations of privacy and are outright opposed in Germany, where activists have successfully forced changes in Facebook’s use of user data and halted Google’s street views project.

We in the U.S. might see tech companies and U.S. intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency as very different sorts of animals, but in Europe they are increasingly seen as part of a larger American privacy invasion. The now-public revelation that the U.S. lobbied the European Union to drop a measure that might well have blocked PRISM snooping would seem to risk exacerbating European mistrust of the U.S. on privacy. European elected officials may find themselves vulnerable to charges of being strong-armed by the Americans, something that is likely to only sharpen their anger with Washington.

JL A (281)
Friday June 14, 2013, 4:36 pm
Sad that it has come to this

Angelika R (143)
Friday June 14, 2013, 4:38 pm
Must I emphasize how absolutely outraged and disgusted I am about this betrayel?!!! If more Germans knew this Obama would speak at an empty Brandenburg Gate next week. The new slogan is "YES WE SCAN"

Angelika R (143)
Friday June 14, 2013, 4:38 pm
Our press is speaking of "The lost friend" ...

. (0)
Friday June 14, 2013, 4:51 pm
If this is true, I an shocked Obama has the ability to pull this off.

Patricia H. (440)
Sunday June 16, 2013, 12:13 pm
I agree with JL A.

Gloria picchetti (304)
Sunday June 16, 2013, 12:22 pm
If they are listening to my calls they need more coffee because my calls are snoozers.

Sara V (0)
Sunday June 16, 2013, 12:57 pm
Great - the politicians are finally working together - for a one world government police state that none of us want, betraying us all.

Angelika R (143)
Sunday June 16, 2013, 1:32 pm
You pretty much hit the core issue there, thx Sara! That "working together" to me comes pretty close to threatening or even blackmailing, though and I am getting an idea of what the "heavy lobbying" looked like.
The Brussels officials should be held accountable for this betrayal and deception. Article 42 was for a reason
as NO EUROPEAN would allow any US agency to monitor all their communications.

Past Member (0)
Sunday June 16, 2013, 1:45 pm
I wonder if "Prism," allows the US to see middle fingers...

Angelika R (143)
Sunday June 16, 2013, 1:56 pm
lol scott, we like to HOPE it does as the NSA is facing millions of California howdies now..

Deborah W (6)
Sunday June 16, 2013, 1:58 pm
The wider privacy legislation is pending ... persuaded to drop the rule apparently out of fear. Besides, the rule would be too difficult to enforce anyway given the fact that most tech companies are in the U.S. (Google cited specifically). Small-potato win, nevertheless something to boast about instead of getting slammed endlessly.

Well on our way to Government-controlled AmeriKa ... begin now to research candidates up for mid-term reelection so that you can still make the changes needed ... while you still have free choice without the riots.

M B (62)
Sunday June 16, 2013, 2:14 pm
This is outrageous, "Yes we scan" makes non U.S. citizens potential terrorists, thanks to PRISM. Keep that in mind for the next elections.

Birgit W (160)
Sunday June 16, 2013, 2:18 pm

. (0)
Sunday June 16, 2013, 2:46 pm
Noted & posted

Madhu Pillai (22)
Sunday June 16, 2013, 2:48 pm
Obama, what he promised and what he delivered! So disillusioned.

. (0)
Sunday June 16, 2013, 2:54 pm
Thanks for the article, Angelika

Lois Jordan (63)
Sunday June 16, 2013, 3:59 pm
Thanks for posting, Angelika, I wasn't aware of this. Well, I'm glad Europeans are outraged. The entire world needs to be outraged at these stunts....loudly, strongly, and eternally. Our rights have been encroached for many years now, slowly but surely. 9/11 brought a whole new world of spying. Continued thanks are in order to Ed Snowden and other whistleblowers who have brought such great info to the masses. This is what a dying Empire (U.S.) looks like. All that huffing and puffing to blow us all to kingdom come....we must gather more worldwide People Power to make sure those breaths are full of less and less oxygen, because even though we keep building stronger "houses" those breaths have been intaking all the oxygen.

Jamie Clemons (282)
Sunday June 16, 2013, 4:17 pm
Politicians on both sides of the spectrum have colluded together to betray the most basic rights of the American people. How can we continue to support such a system instead of voting for a third party that may happen to be a better choice?

Angelika R (143)
Sunday June 16, 2013, 4:41 pm
It's getting worse- I wonder if and what else might be released from those leaks the Guardian still has and obviously shares some of the information bit by bit.. check the latest:
US Spied on Russian President Medvedev at 2009 G20 Summit


Paulett Simunich (0)
Sunday June 16, 2013, 5:56 pm
WHY would Germany do this???? If European sentiment is so against Article 42....Merkel is taking huge
risk......On the surface it appears everyone wants protection .....but is fearful of being viewed in this light.

Past Member (0)
Sunday June 16, 2013, 7:32 pm
"We in the U.S. might see tech companies and U.S. intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency as very different sorts of animals, but in Europe they are increasingly seen as part of a larger American privacy invasion."
Excuse me! A lot of Americans feel the same way our European brothers and sisters do!

Shera D. (0)
Sunday June 16, 2013, 8:26 pm
:) hmmmm

Shera D. (0)
Sunday June 16, 2013, 8:27 pm
thanks for the articles :D

Edith B (146)
Sunday June 16, 2013, 10:10 pm
Thanks for posting. I am thoroughly disgusted, but sadly not surprised that our government is spying on us.

Lona G (66)
Monday June 17, 2013, 3:49 am
Like so many Europeans I was outraged when I Heard the USA was invading our privacy, but I'm now utterly disgusted with the EU as well for selling us out.
Today the news broke that England seems to have been listening in on ministers and other political top figures attending a G20 meeting. We haven't heard the last of it yet.

Frances Darcy (92)
Monday June 17, 2013, 6:26 am
Every one is spying and snooping on everyone ... Big brother is deffinately watching us ..

Debra Tate (17)
Monday June 17, 2013, 6:23 pm
Noted! Maybe we will get lucky and a drone strike will hit the storage facility in Utah! That is probably the only way they will quite their slim ball spying! Remove this whole admin from office! VOTE THEM ALL OUT IN 2014!
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