German interior minister: don’t use Google and Facebook if you fear NSA surveillance
By End the Lie
The German interior minister has advised those who fear being subject to National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance to avoid services offered by U.S. internet giants like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and others.
However, one must note that it won’t necessarily help given that the British GCHQ gobbles up data directly from fiber optic cables, which is then shared with the NSA.
Hans-Peter Friedrich, Germany’s interior minister, may be especially concerned with the issue because his country has been targeted more than any other country in Europe for U.S. surveillance. Europeans have become quite upset about being spied on, evidenced by a student group filing complaints in multiple countries over the surveillance program.
Friedrich told reporters in Berlin that “whoever fears their communication is being intercepted in any way should use services that don’t go through American servers,” according to the Associated Press.
Zack Whittaker, writing for CNET, argues that Friedrich’s advice isn’t realistic since the technology world is centered in the United States.
“Europe doesn’t have the technology economy, and it only has pockets of Silicon Valley-like culture spattered around the region,” Whittaker notes. “Can you think of a single European search engine? I can’t.”
He argues that it isn’t the fault of German citizens but is instead the duty of the German government, both legally and politically, to protect their citizens from foreign surveillance.
Friedrich said that German officials are keeping in touch with their U.S. counterparts “on all levels.” A German delegation is also scheduled to fly to Washington D.C. next week to discuss the reports that not only ordinary citizens but even European diplomats were being spied on.
There has been discussion surrounding a possible European cloud which may at least partially protect the data of Europeans.
However, as Whittaker rightly notes, if the NSA can’t directly access data held in Europe, “it can always see its British minion carry out actions on its behalf through pre-existing intelligence agreements.”
After all, the British intelligence services already reportedly have access to a startling number of fiber optic cables. Such access would give them the ability to spy on massive amounts of data, even if people avoid using U.S. services.
One might argue that with such an enormous surveillance grid at the fingertips of the NSA and allied agencies, one would have to promote completely unplugging from the internet.
More realistically, however, European countries could relentlessly go after the United States and United Kingdom and force some kind of end to the surveillance or attempt to get at least some kind of accountability.
Then again, these days that seems more like complete fantasy than anything else.
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