links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 23rd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

  • US intelligence has access to the data of millions of Europeans (Photo: Valentina Pop)

Snowden affair: Much ado and then nothing

 

By Nikolaj Nielsen in EUobserver of December 23, 2013

 

 

EUROPE IN REVIEW 2013 – There is a fine line between security and privacy in free societies.

This year, a bespectacled, 29-year-old US intelligence contractor in a hotel room in Hong Kong showed what happens when the line is crossed.

Edward Snowden’s leaks, which began to come out in British and US newspapers in June, quickly dwarfed the Wikileaks scandal of 2010.

They did not come out of nowhere.

To put it in perspective, it would take one person 13 years to watch one petabyte of movies.

US officials said NSA snooping saved lives on both sides of the Atlantic.

But when Snowden revealed it is also bugging EU offices in Brussels, New York and Washington, the “war on terror”
began to look more like economic espionage.

Some EU officials and MEPs voiced outrage.

But no EU leaders spoke out, even in Germany, home to Europe’s most privacy-conscious society.

Perhaps they kept quiet because Dutch, French, German and Swedish intelligence agencies were also working
with the NSA.

It took news that the NSA had bugged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone before she said anything: “Spying among friends is never acceptable.”

The Snowden affair prompted calls for the EU to halt US free trade talks, to review the EU-US “Safe Harbour” accord on EU citizens’ data and to copper-plate a new EU law on data privacy.

But the free trade talks went on.

The European Commission looked at Safe Harbour, found a few loopholes and asked the US to plug them. It also started, but quickly stopped, a probe into alleged US hacking of an international wire transfer system called Swift.

The data privacy law will be agreed next year.

But EU countries have said it cannot be used to curb espionage because “national security” issues are a prerogative of member states.

Meanwhile, Snowden worked out of Hong Kong because no EU country agreed to shield him from US extradition.

He later got asylum in Russia.

But the extent to which EU countries serve US interests was made clear one day in August.

When Bolivia’s leader, Evo Morales, tried to fly home from a meeting in Moscow, France, Spain, Italy and Portugal closed their airspace, forcing him to land in Vienna, where Austrian security searched his plane because they thought he was hiding Snowden.

“Europe broke all the rules of the game,” Venezuela’s leader noted at the time. “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry … Mother of God. What a world,” Argentina’s President said.

 euobserver.com/news/122161

This article was printed in EUobserver’s yearly magazine Europe in review 2013.

The print edition looks back at the most important stories of the year.

To obtain a copy of the magazine – Price per copy €4.75 + postage, excl. vat. Discounts on larger purchases.

===========================================================

===========================================================

Edward Snowden, after months of NSA revelations, says his mission’s accomplished.

 www.washingtonpost.com/world/nati…
Snowden, in interview, says his mission’s accomplished
His leaks have fundamentally altered the U.S. government’s relationship with its citizens, the rest of the world.
( Barton Gellman, The Washington Post)

Will the NSA have to curtail some intelligence tools?
The agency currently is on the losing side of a public relations battle in justifying its methods.
( Walter Pincus, The Washington Post

 

==========================================================

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a comment for this article

###