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article imageOp-Ed: U.S. claims using EU companies to circumvent NSA spying unfair

By Ken Hanly     Apr 9, 2014 in Politics
Washington - Recent U.S. criticism will increase the conflict between the U.S. and Europe over NSA spying. The office of the U.S.Trade Representative(USTR) claims that creating an EU-centric system to avoid NSA spying would violate international trade laws.
Both Germany and France are said to support a move by Deutsche Telekom to create a European system that would leave NSA unable to spy on phone and email conversations since they would not go through any U.S.-based system that NSA can access. The U.S. claims that this would put U.S. technology companies at a disadvantage, particularly any company that is known to allow NSA to spy on its system. The USTR claims that American tech companies would take a huge financial hit if the system goes ahead. In its annual report the USTR complained: "Recent proposals from countries within the European Union to create a Europe-only electronic network (dubbed a 'Schengen cloud' by advocates) or to create national-only electronic networks could potentially lead to effective exclusion or discrimination against foreign service suppliers that are directly offering network services, or dependent on them,"
Edward Snowden's revelations showed that global telecommunications meta-data is being stored in the U.S. There have also been disclosures that the NSA collected information about German Chancellor Merkel. U.S. telecommunication and internet firms are now lobbying Washington to turn down the heat and give the Europeans assurance on the privacy issue.
The U.S. seems to think that it has a right to spy whether it violates the laws of the countries it is spying on or not. Even Canadian provinces come in for criticism. Privacy laws in British Columbia and Nova Scotia do not usually allow public bodies outside the country to store and access data about Canadians. Instead of changing their illegal activity the Americans want to get rid of the laws.
This is not the only criticism the USTR has of Canada. The Canadian federal government is building a unified email system that requires data to be stored in Canada and this prevented US companies that store data in the US from bidding on the contract. Bell Canada won the $400 million dollar contract. The USTR report complains: “In today’s information-based economy, particularly where a broad range of services are moving to “cloud” based delivery where US firms are market leaders, this law hinders US exports of a wide array of products and services,” If the market leaders continue to break national laws and facilitate NSA spying they can expect that they will not remain market leaders in many areas outside of the U.S.
As with the EU, Canada is concerned over its dependence on the US for routing telecommunications. About 90 per cent of Canadian internet traffic goes through the U.S. making it available for NSA snoops. The Canadian Internet Registration Authority proposed last October to build up a domestic infrastructure so as to protect data from possible NSA snooping. For the US however Free Trade means the freedom to snoop.
The EU parliament has passed a non-binding resolution calling for the suspension of existing agreements with the U.S. including bank data sharing.The resolution also proposes to separate data protection from the EU-US trade talks.
The resolution could also have a serious impact on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership(TTIP) since it calls for the European Parliament to approve the agreement only if it takes into account the fundamental rights of EU citizens. The European Parliament also seeks a separate digital bill of rights for all EU citizens. Apparently the US seeks a universal right of NSA to spy wherever it wants.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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