Germany Proposes Tough Love for U.S. Companies that Don’t Protect Private Data

According to an Ars Technica report, Germany’s justice minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said on Monday that she favored even stronger European Union rules that would enhance data protection and that companies in the United States who don't abide by those standards should be barred from doing business in the European Market.

Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told German newspaper Die Welt that Germany's laws on data protection should be the model for the entire 28-nation bloc of the European Union. In a seperate interview with the same newspaper on Monday, German High Court Justice Hans-Jürgen Papier defended the German government’s relationship with the American spy services, but noted that a state "can only be responsible for doing things that it has the legal power, and is able, to do."

Justice Papier also conceded that scope and scale of the NSA's spying operations revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden was frightening.

"I did not expect that spying can take those dimensions," he said, adding that he supports creating a "comprehensive and effective data protection agreement" that would apply on a "worldwide" basis.

All of these public prognostications from officials come on the heels of public criticism for Germany's part in spying operations. Germany’s cooperation has come under renewed scrutiny over the last few days after it was revealed that the country's foreign intelligence service (BND) provided the NSA with "substantial amounts of meta data."

According to a report in Der Spiegel on Monday, the documents released by Snowden showed that "the BND passes on to the NSA massive amounts of connection data relating to the communications it had placed under surveillance. The so-called metadata—telephone numbers, email addresses, IP connections—then flow into the Americans' giant databases."

It will be interesting to see if Germany's strong medicine for U.S. companies is real, and if it is even possible to get every member country of the European Union to agree to broad and strict data protection laws. For now the rhetoric is welcomed by advocacy groups who think the NSA's surveillance programs are out of control…

Source: Ars Technica

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