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: Study shows role of media in sharing life events

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

Study shows role of media in sharing life events

16 hours ago

To share is human. And the means to share personal news—good and bad—have exploded over the last decade, particularly social media and texting. But until now, all research about what is known as "social sharing," or the ...

UK: Former reporter sentenced for phone hacking

23 hours ago

(AP)—A former British tabloid reporter was given a 10-month suspended prison sentence Thursday for his role in the long-running phone hacking scandal that shook Rupert Murdoch's media empire.

Evaluating system security by analyzing spam volume

23 hours ago

The Center for Research on Electronic Commerce (CREC) at The University of Texas at Austin is working to protect consumer data by using a company's spam volume to evaluate its security vulnerability through the SpamRankings.net ...

Surveillance a part of everyday life

Jul 24, 2014

Details of casual conversations and a comprehensive store of 'deleted' information were just some of what Victoria University of Wellington students found during a project to uncover what records companies ...

European Central Bank hit by data theft

Jul 24, 2014

(AP)—The European Central Bank said Thursday that email addresses and other contact information have been stolen from a database that serves its public website, though it stressed that no internal systems or market-sensitive ...

Twitter admits to diversity problem in workforce

Jul 24, 2014

(AP)—Twitter acknowledged Wednesday that it has been hiring too many white and Asian men to fill high-paying technology jobs, just like several other major companies in Silicon Valley.

User comments : 0