​‘Europe needs independent infrastructure to avoid US snooping’

Annie Machon
Annie Machon is a former intel­li­gence officer for MI5, the UK Secur­ity Ser­vice, who resigned in the late 1990s to blow the whistle on the spies’ incom­pet­ence and crimes with her ex-partner, David Shayler. Draw­ing on her var­ied exper­i­ences, she is now a pub­lic speaker, writer, media pun­dit, inter­na­tional tour and event organ­iser, polit­ical cam­paigner, and PR con­sult­ant. She has a rare per­spect­ive both on the inner work­ings of gov­ern­ments, intel­li­gence agen­cies and the media, as well as the wider implic­a­tions for the need for increased open­ness and account­ab­il­ity in both pub­lic and private sectors.
​‘Europe needs independent infrastructure to avoid US snooping’
The only way to protect the privacy of ordinary citizens in European cyberspace is to break away from dependency on the US in terms of software and hardware and develop a pan-European security structure, former MI5 Agent Annie Machon told RT.

RT:Obama said eavesdropping on friends and allies is out of bounds, and yet the NSA is still spying on German officials. So who's really controlling the agency?

Annie Machon: Let’s not forget that the NSA has been caught out spying on every German in Germany. So whether it is Angela Merkel’s personal telephone, or whether it is 320 so-called ‘elite Germans,’ 80 million Germans are being spied on by the NSA. So is it ok to spy on one, is it ok to spy on 320, or is it ok to spy on 80 million? Who knows?

I think this goes much deeper. There is no guarantee that the NSA will stop spying on anyone in Germany, including Angela Markel. The only thing that can go some way to rectifying the situation is not to rely on the US guarantees of “we’re not going to spy on you,” is to actually take the matters into their own hands technologically and protect themselves technologically, and this could have been done over 10 years ago.

RT:The leak came from an anonymous high-level NSA official in Germany. So Edward Snowden is not the only agency whistleblower?

Possibly yes. This has been built on Bild am Sonntag, which is a bit of a tabloidian newspaper. It is being reported everywhere but it does not suggest any collaboration one way or the other about this actual fact. So who knows? But I think the principles go deeper, which is if you are in Germany, you are to going be spied on. And it’s rather sad because in 2001, in July, in Europe, there was a decision taken by the European Parliament to actually break away from the US dependency that we have in Europe, on their technological systems and everything, things like Microsoft, all the other systems they’ve developed since then. And we could have then develop our own systems in Europe which would have been independent and much more secure and would have guaranteed our European system privacy. And this was of course abandoned after 9/11 in the US. And it would be good to get back to that. I hope that the European Parliament is revisiting the possibility of building up that market here.

Reuters/Larry Downin

RT:US official communications are also monitored by foreign powers, as we saw with the leaked conversation involving US diplomat Victoria Nuland. Isn’t it just part of statecraft? Is it just the way the game is played?

AM: Of course it is. Countries do spy on each other. The point is that the German intelligence agency should be protecting their German politicians and the German government...[from] being spied on by other governments and other intelligence agencies. That is what they are there to do. Not to be complicit in helping the NSA and the US intelligence agencies to spy on people in their own country. That is not what they are there for. They are there to protect the national integrity, national security of the German country. And if they are complicit, and we know that they are complicit from the revelations from Edward Snowden, things like XKeyscore, then they are not doing their job to protect the German constitution, the German people.

RT:Do you think there is a possibility of a new infrastructure that would work its way around US surveillance in order to trade information without any involvement or possible eavesdropping? Do you think that could be successful?

AM: I think it is still possible, yes. And I think it will be a win-win for Europe, because it will be building up an independent knowledge base, it will be good for business, it would protect all our privacies, not just in terms of people spying on people because of intelligence – things like the protection of our financial transactions over the internet, our medical records over the internet – all these key privacy issues.

And if Europe can actually move towards, as a continent, towards building the infrastructure that protects the system’s rights here, I think that is exactly the European Parliament, and exactly what our national government should be doing in Europe.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.