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Letter to Attorney General demands information on secret spying program

It was revealed last week that the Obama administration had carried out two massive spying programs, one of which primarily target foreigners (PRISM) seizing emails, chat records, and more; and a second (unnamed) which targeted the majority of U.S. citizens seizing so-called "telephony metadata" that allowed the Obama administration to track most U.S. citizens on a daily basis.

I. EU Upset About U.S. Monitoring, Demands Information

Some U.S. politicians have cheered the whistleblower, who recently outed himself in Hong Kong.  Others have pushed to cover up the mess in the name of "national security", including some of Mr. Obama's allies who hold prominent posts in the Republican Party.

The latest development comes from the European Union.  Viviane Reding, the European commissioner for justice and fundamental rights, wrote a letter to Attorney General (AG) Eric Holder demanding information about the program.

Viviane Reding
Viviane Reding, the EU commissioner for justice and rights [Image Source: Reuters]

In her letter, obtained by Reuters, she writes:

I would request that you provide me with explanations and clarifications on the Prism program, other U.S. programs involving data collection and search, and laws under which such programs may be authorized.

It appears that U.S. citizens aren't the only ones who were left in the dark by the Obama administration.  Even top officials in the U.S.'s EU ally states have expressed confusion, saying they were not informed of the PRISM spying.

Commissioner Reding finds that extremely frustrating given that she worked so hard in 2012 to draft stricter new rules to safeguard law-abiding EU citizens from spying by foreign governments or corporations.  AG Holder and Commissioner Reding are scheduled to meet tomorrow (Friday) at a ministerial gathering in Dublin, Ireland.

Eric Holder
AG Eric Holder will be forced to talk to the EU this Friday. [Image Source: AP]

Data privacy has been an issue that has plagued the EU.  The EU has worked hard to create more transparent law enforcement and surveillance, giving citizens unjustly targeted avenues to appeal.  But those efforts are at risk as the U.S. is suspected of spying on EU citizens.

In her letter to AG Holder. Minister Reding asks the Obama administration official to detail how many EU citizens were targeted, what kinds of information were collected, and how citizens could appeal the targeting.

II. Europe Grows Frustrated With Its Orwellian Ally

The idea of being able to "appeal" government spying is a relatively foreign idea in the U.S. police state, where many citizens have grown complacent to the notion that the government accesses their data.  

Today under the Oct. 2001 USA PATRIOT Act, citizens are prohibited from even being told they're being spied on.  And under the act there's virtually no route to appeal; most court challenges have fallen flat.

That's bad news for the average law-abiding American who has now discovered the government is storing information on their location and phone-call contacts on a daily basis (the aforementioned "metadata").

By contrast, EU citizens have been much more vocal about preserving freedom in the form of privacy protections for law-abiding citizens.  As a result, the EU's government -- while not perfect on privacy issues -- has behaved far differently than the U.S. government, fighting to protect its citizens from unjust foreign or domestic spying (Coincidentally, the program was first published in the EU, in Britain’s Guardian newspaper).

EU flags
The EU is intent on protecting its citizens from unjust U.S. spying. [Image Source: AFP]

The EU is under pressure from businesses to fight the spying, which represents uncertainty to data firms in Europe.  Comments a minister to Reuters, "The storage of the data in the foreign servers and related legal uncertainty constitutes a real impediment."

President Obama
The Obama administration has shot down EU data protection efforts. [Image Source: AP]

But so far the U.S. has rejected EU requests to clarify and narrow its spying on EU citizens.  There were major talks in 2011 to adopt a transatlantic data protection agreement that would restrict the U.S.'s right to seize European data under the PATRIOT Act.  But ultimately Europe wanted its citizens to have similar protections on U.S. soil, a term U.S. authorities were unwilling to accept.  The talks have since made virtually no progress.

Sources: EU Rights Commissioner, Reuters

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RE: Clown show
By BRB29 on 6/14/2013 11:38:18 AM , Rating: 2
Even us dutch aren't concirned as much by the profit motive as you americans are. In fact, as a dutch person, i am disgusted by how you americans give up all value just to get a higher profit. It's incredibly short term thinking, which leads back to the ignorance. No europian country is that stupid, not even the belgians (for those who know anything about europian culture, that's saying something).

Really? I wouldn't call the US a short term economy. The way our Federal Reserve system works is copied by most other countries of the world because it stimulates and multiply economic growth. Our economic dominance is alive today and in the past. I don't recall the dutch ever had such an illustrious history in economy. Mind you Our country is founded in 1776 making it one of the youngest countries around.

I know plenty about Europian culture and history. It's filled with war based on religion, clash of royalties, and egos.

I don't understand how you could say Europe doesn't have a profit seeking motive. Businesses around the globe has profit seeking motives. That's actually their goal and the whole point of starting a business. If you start a business with no motive to make profits then you failed before you started.

Your arguments breaks down as soon as we look at Greece and especially Italy.

No, i think i'll happily take my ~11% higher taxation (US 29% total taxation, holland 41%) over Detroit any day of the week.

First of all, that's 12% and nobody needs a calculator to figure that out. Second, you just compared Holland(a country) to Detroit(a city). You also picked a city in a tough situation and compared it to a country in good standing. Let's look at Greece and compare it to Detroit. Or let's look at Arlington, VA and compare it to Greece and see how stupid your statements are.

RE: Clown show
By Nephiorim on 6/14/2013 1:01:40 PM , Rating: 2
Holland are actually two provinces (out of 12) combined within the country of the Netherlands:

Also you should look up the Dutch Golden Age and how we founded silly little cities such as New York (then called Nieuw Amsterdam) before you blast our economic prowess. This is where I get chauvinistic sure, but we are and have always proven to be a nation of traders. The Dutch are responsible for a whole lot of economic 'inventions' or ideas.

RE: Clown show
By BRB29 on 6/14/2013 1:34:48 PM , Rating: 2
And why did every single European country and the british empire lost all their colonies?

the dutch golden age lasted 80 years for which it wasn't #1. I'm willing to bet the US will be #1 for much longer than your lackluster 80 years.

RE: Clown show
By Nephiorim on 6/14/2013 2:20:47 PM , Rating: 2
Because every empire has its rise & fall. Talk about having to learn from history. US #1, fine. So as a country you have the biggest economy. Enjoy it for a few more years when the Chinese overtake you. Also:

Also, speaking of the Chinese, looking at powerbase the Chinese had the upper hand for thousands and thousands of years. The 'West' only dominated the world stage for a few centuries, but the Chinese are making their comeback. 'The New Asian Hemisphere' is a brilliant and objective book regarding the subject. If you are at all interested in geopolitics it's highly suggested reading.

RE: Clown show
By BRB29 on 6/14/2013 2:48:38 PM , Rating: 2
So now that you can't prove your golden dutch age is so great, you use the chinese?

The chinese won't catch up anytime soon.

Learn to read data first. I won't even bother to explain anything to you since you're so ignorant.

If China catches up, it won't be any time soon. They will face the retirement age of their population boom before that. Which is always a huge problem for the developed nation like US and Japan.

What's next retard? You're going to claim Switzerland has higher per capita so therefore it is better?

RE: Clown show
By Nephiorim on 6/14/2013 3:03:03 PM , Rating: 2
Well at the very least I haven't had to resort to name calling yet. The Dutch golden age is one of the reasons the USA even exists in its current form. So yeah I'd say it was great.

Dude, you're the one claiming USA is the best country in the world purely because of the size of its economy. Talk about using a random indicator out of context.

RE: Clown show
By BRB29 on 6/14/2013 3:13:24 PM , Rating: 2
Or you're spewing BS about how the EU is better is I am disproving you. And when you realize you don't have anything else, you resort to pulling the China card.

Dude, you're the one claiming USA is the best country in the world purely because of the size of its economy. Talk about using a random indicator out of context.

really? economic power is a random indicator?
i guess having more economic power can't afford us better things.

RE: Clown show
By Nephiorim on 6/14/2013 3:24:27 PM , Rating: 2
We can both find indicators where one country is higher on a ranking than the other. This is why you cannot blatantly say one country is better than the other. It just means the priorities are different. You're really conforming to the stereotypical view Europeans have of Americans, namely being only focused on money money money. Money does not equal happiness.

Also to state that the size of an economy equals economic power is just plain wrong. Economic power consists of way more factors. Tell me, what percentage of Americans actually have access to better things? In practice, not in theory.

RE: Clown show
By Cheesew1z69 on 6/14/2013 9:41:17 PM , Rating: 2
You are feeding it, he is trying to drag you down to his level of stupid, quit feeding...

RE: Clown show
By Reclaimer77 on 6/15/2013 2:42:26 PM , Rating: 2
Meah I don't know, I kind of have to go with BRB29 on this one. Europe is just a disaster on so many levels, claiming otherwise is nonsense.

Even with Obama doing everything to ruin America, it's still the best place to live. That's a pretty sad statement on the rest of the world.

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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