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Europe doesn't want the U.S. stealing its economic secrets, manipulating its politics

Germany and France, the top two economies in Europe by GDP, have a common problem – The United States.  While the Europeans perhaps suspected their ally of mild snooping, the vast extent of data collection by National Security Agency (NSA) came as a shock to the European Union states.
 
I. Don't Spy on Me
 
Germany was especially offended after reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel's smartphone was snooped on by U.S. spies who claimed to be doing it to "fight terrorism".  While U.S. President Barack Obama insisted that the spying wasn't for economic gains, foreign leaders are skeptical of that statement given the record amount of money from the U.S. bank industry that backed President Obama's 2008 and 2012 campaigns.
 
Now Germany and France are looking to work together to developed closed networks for emails to make sure that sensitive communications are safe from interception by America's spying machine.

Angela Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (left) with Steffen Seibert [Image Source: Reuters]

In comments in her weekly podcast, Chancellor Merkel lashed out at U.S. providers like Google Inc. (GOOG) and Facebook, Inc. (FB) for failing to encrypt fiber optic communications lines that traveled between data centers.  The NSA reportedly spent billions in U.S. taxpayer money to carry out audacious schemes including cutting ocean cables using submarines in order to tap into international lines.  This spying focused largely on harvest phone calling data, as well as the bulk of internet traffic, including unencrypted email information.
 
Other components of the NSA's "information dominance" campaign were more exotic.  The NSA also reportedly worked to put Americans and their allies at risk by sabotaging international encryption.   It also used cybercriminal-type malware to attack Americans and citizens and ally states.  Lastly, it reportedly had two factories devoted full time to planting bugs in consumer electronics sold in America, Europe, and other regions.

The NSA
European allies aren't happy with NSA spying. [Image Source: NYPost]

To be fair to America's political leaders, the Obama administration's policies are at odds with many members of his own party in Congress.  The NSA effectively admitted to spying on Congress, most recently. 
 
While U.S. tech companies have largely criticized the effort, many international business partners have felt they have moved too sluggishly to beat back the NSA and protect their foreign customers' data.
 
II. A Private EU Network?
 
On Wednesday Chancellor Merkel will travel to France where she will meet with French President Francois Hollande, who is fresh of a tour of Washington, D.C.  In her podcast she states:

We'll talk with France about how we can maintain a high level of data protection.  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.  We've got to do more for data protection in Europe, there's no doubt about it.

Chancellor Merkel has been pushing the Obama administration for a so-called "no-spy" agreement in which Germany agreed to cease its limited intelligence gathering as well in exchange for the U.S. agreeing not to spy on Germans and their leaders.  But so far the U.S. President has refused to stop spying on his allies.
 
French President Hollande's office sounded onboard with PM Merkel's idea.  A spokesperson commented to Reuters:

Now that the German government is formed, it is important that we take up the initiative together.

Francois Hollande
President Obama meets with Francois Hollande in May 2012. [Image Source: The White House]

The idea of a "European network" whose data does not pass travel to any data centers in the U.S. is a novel one.

But it remains to be seen whether popular U.S. internet software and content providers such as Google and Facebook would be on board with the plan.  While they have data centers in Europe, large American internet companies like Google use data mirroring -- send data back to the U.S. -- to improve the reliability of their services.  Some may be onboard with the plan, though.  Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) had already suggested such an idea last month.

Source: Reuters





"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis













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