Published: Mon, 17 June 2013
Sean Kelly MEP (Ireland South) will raise EU privacy concerns over the “unacceptable” ‘net-tapping’ scandal when he meets US lawmakers during high-level meetings in Washington next month.
“I am very concerned about the infringement of the privacy of EU citizens in light of the alleged surveillance of many popular websites used by millions of people. I will seek clarity on the situation and the extent to which European citizens have been involved when I continue further meetings with US policymakers next month,” Mr Kelly said today.
The Fine Gael MEP discussed the matter with the US Ambassador to the EU, William E Kennard, during meetings held in Strasbourg on Wednesday and Thursday of this week (12-13 June) but is seeking further reassurance for EU citizens.
“Ambassador Kennard explained the need for intelligence gathering against any possible terrorist threat. He also noted that while the level of surveillance has been revealed to the world, the leaked information has also alerted terrorist organisations to its existence,” Mr Kelly said.
“Unfortunately, the reality is that authorities do need to gather information in order to protect citizens from terrorist threats. However, the extent of that ‘snooping’, as has been alleged, seems to cross a proportionate line that is a step too far for the EU. It is simply not acceptable.”
The revelations come at a crucial time for the EU-US trade talks according to Mr Kelly, a lead negotiator on the EU General Regulation on Data Protection.
“The scandal has brought about a timely debate on the issue of privacy and individual rights versus national security. It is an issue we need to address on a global level,” Mr Kelly added.
“We are working towards some real, positive progress for citizens and with respect to online business on Data Protection in Europe. However, there is a serious and urgent need for re-examination of such surveillance methods at an international level in light of the widespread use of internet and social media communications.”
Mr Kelly will represent Europe when he meets leading politicians from the United States Congress and House of Representatives in July during scheduled talks as a member of the EU Delegation for Relations with the United States.