EU frustrated with U.S. spying

June 20, 2013 at 1:33 PM   |   Comments

BRUSSELS, June 20 (UPI) -- Members of the European Union should enact policies that would protect the privacy of its citizens against U.S. surveillance, members of Parliament said.

Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs discussed the need to pass legislation that would protect personal data from U.S. surveillance.

Former U.S. national security consultant Edward Snowden leaked to the press details of a surveillance program dubbed "Prism," which permits some level of data mining from Internet and mobile phone networks. The program extended into European networks.

European Union Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said Prism was a "wake-up call" on the need to enact tighter privacy protections.

French member of Parliament Veronique Mathieu said a group of experts slated to meet in July should work quickly on drafting new privacy legislation.

"What is happening now is really shocking," she said in a statement Thursday. "We cannot allow Americans to spy on EU citizens ... even if it is a security matter."

U.S. President Barack Obama defended the program during a meeting Wednesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The surveillance program helped thwart terrorist attacks targeting Germany, he said.

Reding said she discussed the program this week with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. She said all of the EU's questions on privacy were not answered by Holder, adding the EU needs to "show some backbone" on the issue.

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