German Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday (16 February) she would talk to French President François Hollande about building a European communication network to avoid emails and other data passing through the United States. The Commission welcomed the idea, saying that it went in the same direction with its own efforts on data protection.
Merkel, who visits France on Wednesday, has been pushing for greater data protection in Europe following reports last year about mass surveillance in Germany and elsewhere by the US National Security Agency. Even Merkel’s cell phone was reportedly monitored by American spies.
Merkel said in her weekly podcast that she disapproved of companies such as Google and Facebook basing their operations in countries with low levels of data protection while being active in countries such as Germany with high data protection.
“We’ll talk with France about how we can maintain a high level of data protection,” Merkel said.
“Above all, we’ll talk about European providers that offer security for our citizens, so that one shouldn’t have to send emails and other information across the Atlantic. Rather, one could build up a communication network inside Europe,” Merkel said.
Germany has been pushing, so far in vain, for a ‘no-spy’ agreement with Washington.
Hollande’s office confirmed that the governments had been discussing the matter and said Paris agreed with Berlin’s proposals.
“Now that the German government is formed, it is important that we take up the initiative together,” an official said.
Asked if Merkel’s idea clashed with Digital Agenda Commissioner Nellie Kroes’s position that no government control should be imposed on the internet, her spokesperson Ryan Heath said he saw no contradiction.
He said that the EU executive supported Merkel’s call for better network security.
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