'It's nonsense to ask for pan-European internet network, it’s already the case'

Reuters / Pawel Kopczynski
Angela Merkel’s proposal to create a pan-European communications network is really a political stance and not something that will protect European citizens’ communications, Benjamin Sonntag, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net, told RT.

RT:What kind of future do you see for this proposal of Angela Merkel to create a pan-European communications network that would prevent private data from leaking across the Atlantic? Do you think it will go ahead?

Benjamin Sonntag: I think it’s only a political discourse. It will not go ahead at all, because if you look at the internet, it’s already totally decentralized. Whether you are a little or a bigger operator, you are already doing what you want on your own and you are part of the internet. So basically, if you look at the communication today between the European countries, they are already going between them and not through America. It’s almost a nonsense to ask for pan-European network. It’s already the case.

RT:British and German intelligence agents have reportedly been collaborating with the NSA. If the proposed European network does go ahead, how would that affect the collaboration?

BS: It would not affect the collaboration because we can see that the GCHQ in the UK, the German services, the DCRI in France, Intelligence service there, are collaborating heavily with the NSA, and they are telling [us] that they are listening to all conversations that they can. So basically, if we create a specific network in Europe, it will only be a network that will be listened to by those services again. So this is really a political stance and not something that wants to protect the European citizens’ communications. The only solution we can see, La Quadrature, to protect the communications of the European citizens will be to ask for less collaboration with NSA from their own services and ask their services to protect our citizens and to protect the companies in Europe from this mass surveillance.

RT:Why did it take so long for Europe to react? We’ve known since last summer that the US is spying on Europe, so why did it take so long to go from anger to action?

BS: They are not even going from anger to action and they are not that angry at all because if you see President Hollande in France, he went to the USA last week, to Silicon Valley, and talked to President Obama. They were quite nice people talking together, chatting, and they don’t ask anything about mass surveillance issues. So maybe Mrs Merkel is a little bit angry about that and try to say that they should do something but even the something she asks for is something that is irrelevant for us. It means that they don’t understand what’s going on or worse, it means that they know they are spying on their citizens and that they want to be able to continue with that.

RT:The proposal ultimately suggests fracturing the internet into independent zones. Could it become the reality? Would this change the World Wide Web as we know it?

BS: Yes, it could be a reality. This is already a case in one big country, namely in China, they are a kind of fragmenting the internet, protected by what they call “the Great Firewall of China,” and it just means that you can’t have any free speech at all. That’s the only way you can close internet into small parts. It could be done, it would need a great expanse of really impressive [anti-Constitutional] laws in every European country to be able to do that, and it will be certainly not happen unless the people are forced to understand the usual bulls**t about the fight against terrorism or whatsoever. Unless they do that, it will be clearly impossible in Europe because we have a lot of decentralized operators mainly.

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