‘No European data to the US without our approval’
Outrage is spreading across the European Union following
revelations that the US National Security Agency has been
collecting private communications around the world, possibly
complicating US-EU relations as US President Barack Obama
prepares a visit to Germany.
RT:So data about potential security threats - but is it possible they're using it for clandestine information gathering here - like economic secrets?
WC: That’s the real problem. At this moment we don’t know exactly what the Americans are doing with our data, and especially with our privacy data. And I think they are exaggerating a little bit in their security policy. If they want the data of American citizens, for me that’s ok. But no European data without our approval. It is very strange that you collect data – especially from European citizens – and that at the end nobody is responsible for that collection of data. So at least the United States and President Obama have to make it clear to the European Union what they are doing with this data, how do they (store) it and for how long? And what is the purpose of its collection?
RT:Is there anything that the EU can actually do to protect its privacy?
WC: I think so. We are on many issues at this moment and negotiating with the Americans, especially on the PNR – personal name record for the air companies – and of course we are also busy with the free trade agreement between the EU and the United States, and I think both issues can be coupled to this Prism issue. So the Americans, I think, have to learn that a mutual exchange of data is one of the first steps to having a normal relationship between the EU and the United States.
RT:But this kind of thing's been going on for decades- there's nothing new here apart from technology, surely everyone's at it?
WC: Yes, but that’s a rather strange opinion because if you are doing things wrong for ten years, it doesn’t give them legitimacy, and I think we have to correct this. The European citizens have to be protected from foreign secret services.
RT:We keep hearing a lot that if you've nothing to hide, you've got nothing to worry about. But that's correct isn't?
WC:You know, that’s a very strange principle in data protection and privacy protection. Of course people are happier when they don’t have to hide something, but in general the European governments and also the European Union they have to protect their citizens from foreign secret services outside of the European Union. One of the principles in this governmental policy is that the citizens are protected, and not only by the sentence: “If you have nothing to hide, there is no problem.”