EU Commissioner Reding to take US to task over PRISM in Dublin this week

12 Jun 2013

Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner, has added her voice to the chorus of questions directed towards the US Attorney General over revelations surrounding PRISM, the US intelligence agencies’ data surveillance system. She will be raising the issue at a meeting with the US Attorney General Eric Holder in Dublin this week.

In the last 24 hours organisations like Mozilla, Reddit and 4chan sent a letter signed by over 80 other organisations demanding the US Congress draw a halt to surveillance of US citizens and citizens from other countries.

Overnight Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond also wrote to the US Attorney General and the FBI asking the US Government to disclose exactly the full scale of secret orders the search giant is believed to have responded to. “Google has nothing to hide,” Drummond said pointing out that the internet giant’s relationship with the public is built entirely on trust.

Google was named among a number of major internet brands, including Facebook, Apple and Microsoft, as companies whose servers were being accessed by US intelligence agencies under a programme called PRISM, to spy on the online activities of users inside and outside of the US.

The frenzy of activity follows leaks to the media by a disaffected former CIA contractor called Edward Snowden who revealed the existence of PRISM last week.

Reding warns of adverse consequences for rights of EU citizens

The BBC reported that Reding wrote to the US Attorney General and said she was concerned “America’s efforts could have grave adverse consequences for the fundamental rights of EU citizens.”

Reding will be raising the PRISM issue with US Attorney General Eric Holder at the EU-U.S. Ministerial meeting in Dublin this Friday (14 June).

In a note on her page on the European Commission website Reding said: “The respect for fundamental rights and the rule of law are the foundations of the EU-US relationship.

“This common understanding has been, and must remain, the basis of cooperation between us in the area of Justice.

“Trust that the rule of law will be respected is also essential to the stability and growth of the digital economy, including transatlantic business. This is of paramount importance for individuals and companies alike,” Reding said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years