Obama’s Data Nightmare is Europe’s (Handelsblatt, Germany)

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Should Europeans, or people in any country other than the United States for that matter, worry that the newly-revealed NSA surveillance program is legally authorized to spy on them? For Germany’s Handelsblatt, columnist Axel Postinett expresses concern that almost all of the major Internet companies are based in the United States and are at the behest of the U.S. government, which puts European data at risk, and the European Union at a competitive disadvantage.

For Handelsblatt, Axel Postinett starts out this way:

San Francisco: It was emphatically the last thing Obama needed. This weekend in California’s Palm Springs, he actually hoped to read the riot act to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. For years, hackers in China have allegedly been obtaining confidential information from corporate and government servers. Obama wants to make clear that this will no longer be tolerated and that the Chinese government will be held directly responsible.

But Jinping has good reason to react with an inscrutable smile and massive counter-allegations. On Friday morning, Obama had to openly admit that under his authority, the United States has been conducting massive worldwide data snooping. Anyone who is not a U.S. citizen or living in the United States is under general suspicion of being a terrorist – and that includes the Chinese. Conversations are being followed, e-mails read, photos viewed, and files on servers searched. On a more limited level, even U.S. citizens are targeted: selected phone numbers at home and abroad are evaluated.

That is only possible because the U.S. has achieved virtual global domination of the Web through its prosperous Internet industry. At least in the Western world, practically every significant Internet company originated in the United States. Regardless of whether it is Apple, Google, AOL, Skype, Dropbox, Microsoft or Facebook: According to U.S. law, these companies are required to provide, on request, information about all foreign customers.


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Author: WILLIAM KERN (Worldmeets.US)

Founder and Managing Editor of Worldmeets.US