France, Germany Demand Non-spying Agreement

The European Commission Building in Brussels. Photo: Sébastien Bertrand for Wikimedia Commons

The European Commission Building in Brussels. Photo: Sébastien Bertrand for Wikimedia Commons

This October, the opening of the European Summit in Brussels was marked with a growing sense of distrust.

European leaders, led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande, have called for a non-spying “code of conduct” agreement—a move that comes in the wake of the revelation that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has been spying on American allies.

France and Germany have been the prominent proponents of the agreement, and demanded its realization by the end of the year. Further, France requested the additional measure of enforcement of European citizens’ privacy to the summit’s agenda.

“This kind of practice between partners…is totally unacceptable,” said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

The NSA has allegedly accessed millions of French phone records and monitored Merkel’s personal cell phone. According to a recent report by Le Monde, the agency monitored 70.3 million French phone calls and texts between December 10, 2012 and January 8, 2013. Additionally, the NSA allegedly launched a surveillance program called Genie that introduced spyware implants to foreign computers, including those of French diplomats in Washington and at the UN.

According to a report released October 26 by Der Spiegel based on documents from the NSA, the Agency may have been monitoring Merkel’s phone as early as 2002. Though US President Barack Obama has assured Merkel that her phone is currently untapped, these revelations have undermined the trust of the Obama administration abroad and soured relations with two crucial American allies.

“What is at stake is preserving our relations with the United States,” said Hollande in a press conference. “They should not be changed because of what happened, but trust has to be restored and enforced.”

Germany has taken a lead role in condemning the NSA’s tactics, and emphasized the importance of an agreement given the alliance between the two nations. The proposed contract would give EU citizens the right to request the removal of digital traces, and impose a fine of 100 million euros ($138 million) if this right were infringed.

Germany and France would jointly seek a “framework for cooperation between the relevant [intelligence] services,” according to Merkel.

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  1. […] This October, the opening of the European Summit in Brussels was marked with a growing sense of distrust. European leaders, led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande, have called for a non-spying “code of conduct” agreement—a move that comes in the wake of the revelation that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has been spying on American allies. France and Germany have been the prominent proponents of the agreement, and demanded its realization by the end of the year. Further, France requested the additional measure of… […]

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