BRUSSELS, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) — European lawmakers on Wednesday urged the European Union (EU) to deny United States (U.S.) access to the global banking database, SWIFT, in response to alleged spying activities.
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted by 280 to 254 in favor of such a resolution which is non-binding, according to a statement issued by the European Parliament (EP).
The voting was taken following revelations about the U.S. National Security Agency’s (NSA) alleged tapping of EU citizens’ bank data held by the Belgian company SWIFT, said the statement.
The resolution refers to the EU-U.S. Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) agreement, which entered into force in Aug. 2010, on the processing and transfer of bank messaging data, aiming to track terrorists’ financial flows.
Recent local media reports in Europe alleged that the U.S. NSA had been tapping into EU citizens’ personal financial data handled by SWIFT.
Although the EP has no formal powers to initiate the suspension or termination of an international deal, “the (European) Commission will have to act if Parliament withdraws its support for a particular agreement”, said the resolution.
The EP will “take account of the Commission’s response to this demand when considering whether to give its consent to future international agreements,” it added.
In the statement, MEPs also deplored the fact that no EU member state has investigated these allegations, and urged EU countries to authorize an inquiry by Europol’s Cybercrime Centre.
The resolution also calls for a “full on-site technical investigation” of allegations of the U.S. authorities having had unauthorized access to, or having created possible “back doors” into, the SWIFT servers.
There is no small amount of hypocrisy at play here. Our allies spy on us, too. But the staggering breadth of U.S. spying has spurred nationalistic fury in many countries. This reaction is real and organic, and it will require lots of fence-mending by the president, Secretary of State John Kerry and legions of diplomats.
Without such efforts, the blowback could be more than rhetorical. U.S. high-tech firms that cooperated with the National Security Agency are now in the cross hairs of politicians around the world. Here’s hoping the White House understands that without a U.S. charm offensive, this geopolitical strife could inflict sharp collateral damage on companies that are pillars of our economy.
The Atlantic Wire
Merkel called Obama on Wednesday to ask for clarification on the extent of U.S. surveillance in her country after getting a report indicating that American intelligence might be accessing her mobile phone communications. President Obama had to assure German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the U.S. wasn’t tapping her phone.
That report’s origins haven’t been revealed, but German paper Der Spiegel has indicated that it was based on its research into U.S. spying. A spokesperson for Merkel told the AP that the Chancellor told the president “she views such practices, if the indications are confirmed … as completely unacceptable.” Obama responded with a partial denial of that report, telling Merkel that “the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel.” A statement from the White House added:
“The United States greatly values our close cooperation with Germany on a broad range of shared security challenges. As the President has said, the United States is reviewing the way that we gather intelligence to ensure that we properly balance the security concerns of our citizens and allies with the privacy concerns that all people share.”
Der Spiegel notes that a White House spokesperson “did not wish to specify” whether the U.S. was also denying that it had monitored Merkel’s communications in the past.
…Spying agencies spy on top elected officials and bureaucrats in other countries all the time. It’s what they do. A lot of the reaction to getting caught is just political theater. It’s embarrassing, but not nearly as big a deal as governments spying on citizens. That said, the amusing bit is this:
“The President assured the Chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel.”
Oh, and this:
The spokeswoman did not wish to specify whether this statement applied to the past.
[the] NSA, asked [about the White House’s] statement wording, officially says it has nothing to add [about] whether Merkel was targeted in the past
Yup. Genius move by the White House spin doctors there. Say we’re not monitoring and won’t in the future, calling that much more attention to the question of “in the past” and then refuse to make any statements about that.
By Arthur Bright, CSM
Both the French and Mexican governments are demanding answers from the US regarding new reports that the National Security Agency has been conducting large-scale interceptions of French telecommunications and hacked the email of the last president of Mexico.
The French government summoned the US ambassador today to answer questions about a report in Le Monde that detailed the volume of NSA spying on French telecommunications in December 2012 and early January 2013 – which the French newspaper totaled at 70.3 million phone calls and text messages.
“I have immediately summoned the US ambassador and he will be received this morning at the Quai d’Orsay (the French Foreign Ministry),” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters on the sidelines of [a European Union] meeting in Luxembourg.
Earlier, France’s interior minister, Manuel Valls, said Le Monde’s revelations that 70.3 million pieces of French telephone data were recorded by the NSA between Dec. 10, 2012 and Jan. 8, 2013 were “shocking.”
By Ed Payne and Alex Felton
London (CNN) — The director of national intelligence for the United States says the allegation made in a French newspaper that the National Security Agency intercepted more than 70 million phone calls in France over 30 days is false.
A written statement from James Clapper’s office on Tuesday said, “Recent articles published in the French newspaper Le Monde contain inaccurate and misleading information regarding U.S. foreign intelligence activities.”
The statement added the United States does gather intelligence of “the type gathered by all nations.”
The news release comes the same day French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met to discuss the allegations.
BERLIN (AP) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel complained to President Barack Obama on Wednesday after learning that U.S. intelligence may have targeted her mobile phone, saying that would be “a serious breach of trust” if confirmed.
For its part, the White House denied that the U.S. is listening in on Merkel’s phone calls now.
“The president assured the chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said. “The United States greatly values our close cooperation with Germany on a broad range of shared security challenges.”
However, Carney did not specifically say that that U.S. had never monitored or obtained Merkel’s communications.
The German government said it responded after receiving “information that the chancellor’s cellphone may be monitored” by U.S. intelligence. It wouldn’t elaborate, but German news magazine Der Spiegel, which has published material from NSA leaker Edward Snowden, said its research triggered the response.
Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement the chancellor made clear to Obama in a phone call that “she views such practices, if the indications are confirmed … as completely unacceptable.”
Merkel said among close partners such as Germany and the U.S., “there must not be such surveillance of a head of government’s communication,” Seibert added. “That would be a serious breach of trust. Such practices must be stopped immediately.”
The National Security Agency “is not” and “will not” monitor German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s communications, President Barack Obama told her in a phone call Wednesday, following a complaint from Merkel that she believed that was happening.
Der Spiegel reported, according to Business Insider, that the German government was concerned that Merkel was having her phone monitored.
The White House did not deny that the NSA monitored Merkel’s communications in the past.
“The President assured the Chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel,” according to a White House readout of the call.
Everyday communications of Italians are also on the watch list of the US National Security Agency, a new report has revealed. While an Italian parliamentary committee seeks clarification of NSA activities, local security sources defend the snooping.
Italy’s spy watchdog COPASIR has recently learned details of large-scale monitoring of Italians by the US intelligence agency NSA, according to a report published by Corriere della Sera.
COPASIR stands for Parliamentary Committee for the Intelligence and Security Services and for State Secret Control, and is tasked with overseeing the activities of Italy’s own spy agencies. The body has free access to intelligence agencies’ offices and documents and has the authority to overcome judicial and banking secrecy.
In order to confirm the snooping on Italians, the committee members had to go to the United States and meet with US intelligence agency directors, as well as with congressional committee chairs.
A delegation of parliamentarians from the COPASIR confirmed their concerns regarding the extent of the NSA’s PRISM surveillance program during an official visit to the US three weeks ago, the media said. As part of the program, phone calls and computer communications of “millions of Italians” are reportedly being gathered.
Moreover, Corriere della Sera added that the implications extended to “a monitoring network that started years ago and is still active,” of which the Italian government and spy agencies might have been well aware of.
Spanish authorities believe the US’ National Security Agency (NSA) has been collecting communication data in the country, echoing recent revelations about the NSA’s activity in France.
According to a report in Spanish daily El Pais, the country’s intelligence agency CNI suspects that the NSA has been trawling through millions of phone records, text messages and emails originating in Spain. While it is claimed the content of the phone calls was not recorded, El Pais says the caller, recipient, duration, location and length of calls were collected.
The recording of communication data was triggered by either a keyword or if a phone line had previously been targeted for surveillance. The El Pais report adds that CNI does not believe the NSA targeted politicians as it has done in Mexico and Brazil.
If these reports are correct it would seem that the NSA is targeting Spanish nationals for surveillance in a similar way to its operations in France. French newspaper Le Monde published leaks from whistleblower Edward Snowden that claimed the NSA collected data from 70 million phone calls made in the country in just a 30 day period from December 2012 to January 2013. The NSA has subsequently denied these reports, calling them “false and misleading”.
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