US and Germany to hold talks over European NSA surveillance concernsSubmitted by dwalters on Thu, 07/04/2013 - 17:00
Germany and the US will begin talks as soon as Monday, to address mounting European concerns over internet surveillance that are threatening to overshadow trade negotiations and damage Silicon Valley exports.
A German government spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said a working group of high-level US and German intelligence experts will begin "an immediate and intense discussion" over the issues of data protection and intelligence collection revealed by the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.
This follows the clearest acknowledgement yet by the White House of how the affair is damaging transatlantic relations. In a phone call on Wednesday, President Barack Obama assured Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, "that the United States takes seriously the concerns" – despite his having previously dismissed the spying allegations as no different from activities undertaken by many other countries.
The European Commission also underlined the commercial threat to the US on Thursday by warning that European businesses are likely to abandon the services of American internet providers because of the NSA surveillance scandal. Neelie Kroes, the EC vice-president who speaks on digital affairs, predicted that providers of cloud services, which allow users to store and access data on remote servers, could suffer significant loss of business if clients fear the security of their material is under threat.