Let me start this post – on the PRISM programme – by making a few things clear.
Firstly, I think the jihadist terrorist threat is real and dangerous and even potentially existential in nature: if these people had atomic weapons do you think they would hesitate to use them?
Secondly, I think the police and security services need to be able to do their job to deter and catch these people.
And, thirdly, I believe that all such actions need to be regulated by law and need to reflect the fundamental protections we expect.
What we now know is that a US based internet – which is what we have when we consider Google, Facebook, Twitter and the rest – does not offer those of us who are not US citizens the guarantee that our communications are protected by law. No probable cause is needed to snoop at what we say and do – don’t take my word for it, listen to what the President of the United States has said.
He’s been very clear that the communications of non-US citizens have no legal protection. And I am sure he is right.
But equally the current situation is not acceptable either. For Europeans we must now expect and demand that the European Commission intervene swiftly and make it clear to the US internet giants operating on European soil that the current situation is unacceptable and equally make it clear to the US authorities that this is a matter of trade policy: after all communications could be being intercepted to steal trade secrets as much as anything else.
The aim should not be to ban the authorities’ access to communications but to ensure that European citizens who trade with US internet companies are offered the same legal protections as US citizens (and vice versa as far as Europe is concerned).
- NSA spying scandal fallout: Expect big impact in Europe and elsewhere (Updated) (gigaom.com)
- The NSA Spying Scandal Goes to Europe (origin-www.businessweek.com)
- Looking at PRISM – NSA’s mass surveillance program (privacyinternational.org)
- Europeans call for answers over U.S. web spying allegations (gigaom.com)
- White House admits it has ‘access’ to Facebook, Google (theweek.co.uk)