Veiled threat from Brussels to Washington for the case of massive data espionage. The European Commissioner for Justice, Viviane Reding, has made things clear to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Reding has sent an unusually harsh letter to Eric Holder to demand explanations from the Government orchestrated espionage and warn that the matter can seriously affect relations between the Union and the United States while the two parts carry out negotiations on the free trade agreement between the two powers.
The head of European Justice, who will travel to Dublin on Thursday to participate in the bilateral meeting between the two powers, sent a two and a half page letter to the attorney general requiring detailed explanations for this scandal. At the end of the letter the strongest warning: “Given the gravity of the situation and the serious public concern on this side of the Atlantic, we wait for a prompt and concrete answers by Friday.”
Reding thus warns the U.S. of more direct representation of citizens in the EU institutions, which may want to review all cooperation agreements between both parties. According to her, most of these agreements largely benefit the USA. There is a standard formula in Brussels, not giving in to trade wars and threats.
A spokesman for the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, said Thursday that the entire political spectrum, including conservatives, has shown an unusual degree of hardness in recent discussions with Washington’s stance. “There are two dossiers which are endangered: the free trade agreement between the EU and the U.S., and the proposal for enhanced data protection, which involves data exchange with the Americans and that can generate huge misgivings if no convincing explanations are provided by Washington “, said the spokesman.
EU countries already provide, for example, information on capital movements and passengers of all flights to and from or to the United States. The paradox is that the Twenty still do not share this information with each other. They have spent months trying to push through this regulation, while supplying the data to Washington with the aim of “combating terrorism”.
Reding has said that there are already “adverse consequences due to the existence of the PRISM data surveillance program, which directly affect the fundamental rights of European citizens.” Reding went further to remind Holder that a year ago the two agreed on the need to provide citizens with “a high level of privacy protection.”
The first thing that interests the Commissioner is whether the spying program primarily affects non-US citizens and, in particular, Europe. Also, she asked if access to such personal information is limited to specific cases and what are the criteria used for tracking. She requested details about the whether or not the information is collected in bulk, “without justification on specific cases,” and whether those practices are regular or occasional.
In terms of objectives, the Minister of Justice requested clarification on whether it is used for purposes of national security-related intelligence abroad and how to define both concepts. She also asked about administrative or judicial remedies used by companies in Europe or the U.S. to access the collection and processing of data under programs such as data monitoring.
The straw that seems to have broken the camel’s back are those reports indicating that the National Security Agency has access to call records of Verizon, AT & T and Sprint, the major telecom operators in the U.S., and that between 2007 and 2011 the websites of Microsoft, Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, YouTube, Skype, AOL and Apple were integrated into a secret program that has been championed by U.S. President Barack Obama.