Germany lobbies for UN online privacy charter

Jul 24, 2013 by Frank Jordans

(AP)—Senior German officials are seeking European support for a new global charter safeguarding personal privacy online, as the country's data protection watchdogs called Wednesday for the suspension of a key agreement with the United States over revelations about U.S. intelligence-gathering on the Internet.

The moves reflect concerns in Germany that the U.S. National Security Agency may have collected personal information on millions of Web users in breach of national and international rules. The claim, made by NSA leaker Edward Snowden, has become an election issue in Germany two months before the country goes to the polls.

A letter sent by Germany's foreign and justice ministers to their European Union counterparts proposes expanding a 1966 U.N. human rights treaty to cover modern forms of communication like email, instant messaging and social media.

"We want to use the current debate to launch an initiative that would outline the inalienable privacy rights under current conditions," the two ministers wrote. The letter, sent last week but only released Wednesday, suggests convening a meeting of all 167 parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United States ratified the treaty in 1992.

U.S. officials have defended the NSA programs as necessary to prevent terrorist attacks.

But Germany's independent privacy watchdogs said the surveillance programs breach an EU-U.S. pact meant to ensure cross-border data protection.

The 2000 'Safe Harbor' agreement requires U.S. companies to grant European customers the same level of data protection they could expect in Europe—even if their data is processed or stored elsewhere. But according to Snowden, one NSA program known as PRISM gives the agency comprehensive access to customer data from companies such as Google and Facebook.

The data protection commissioners said the practice effectively makes interception of personal data routine, rather than the exception, and urged European officials to consider suspending the agreement "in view of the excessive surveillance activities of foreign intelligence agencies."

Explore further: EU, Germany demand answers on UK surveillance

5 /5 (3 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

EU, Germany demand answers on UK surveillance

Jun 26, 2013

(AP)—The European Union's justice chief on Wednesday demanded urgent answers from Britain on the nature and extent of an alleged online eavesdropping operation comparable to the U.S. international Internet surveillance ...

Germany wants 'trust restored' after US spy report

Jul 01, 2013

The German government wants "trust restored" with the United States following reports that American intelligence agencies bugged European Union offices, and has invited the U.S. ambassador in Berlin to the ...

EU, Merkel to raise NSA program with US officials

Jun 10, 2013

Senior European Union officials will question their American counterparts about previously undisclosed U.S. surveillance programs during a trans-Atlantic ministerial meeting in Dublin starting Thursday.

Recommended for you

LinkedIn membership hits 300 million

Apr 18, 2014

The career-focused social network LinkedIn announced Friday it has 300 million members, with more than half the total outside the United States.

Researchers uncover likely creator of Bitcoin

Apr 18, 2014

The primary author of the celebrated Bitcoin paper, and therefore probable creator of Bitcoin, is most likely Nick Szabo, a blogger and former George Washington University law professor, according to students ...

White House updating online privacy policy

Apr 18, 2014

A new Obama administration privacy policy out Friday explains how the government will gather the user data of online visitors to WhiteHouse.gov, mobile apps and social media sites. It also clarifies that ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Finnish inventor rethinks design of the axe

(Phys.org) —Finnish inventor Heikki Kärnä is the man behind the Vipukirves Leveraxe, which is a precision tool for splitting firewood. He designed the tool to make the job easier and more efficient, with ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.

Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans

Few Americans question that smoking causes cancer. But they have more skepticism than confidence in global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and have the most trouble believing a Big Bang created the universe 13.8 ...