German Politicians Hit Back At USTR Criticisms Of European Cloud Idea
from the well,-what-did-they-expect? dept
Last week we wrote about the USTR suggesting that any attempt by the European Union to create its own local cloud in order to minimize surveillance by the NSA would violate trade agreements. This has not gone down well with European politicians, particularly in Germany, whose Deutsche Telekom was singled out for criticism. Here’s what Bavaria’s Minister for Europe, Beate Merk, said while visiting the US, as reported by Die Welt (original in German):
“In my talks with the USTR, I’ve made it clear that our discussions of a “Schengen cloud” [that is, EU-only] has no protectionist background, but is born out of need as a consequence of the lost confidence arising from the NSA business,” Merk said to Die Welt.
“We have a duty to ensure that the data of people in the EU is safe from unrestrained access by third parties”, Merk added. If there is no offer from the US side for more data protection and data security, one is obliged “to propose one’s own ideas on this score,” underlined Merk.
She also pointed out that the EU cloud proposals were being made by commercial providers, not put in place through legislation, which means that the accusation of “protectionism” was simply incorrect. A German member of the European Parliament was even more forthright:
“The criticism of the US Trade Representative is bizarre! It seems they’ve noticed that people have finally had enough and that spying on data will no longer be tolerated.”
As Die Welt notes, thanks to the USTR’s ill-judged comments on this issue:
The “Schengen cloud” has become a stumbling block for the planned [TAFTA/TTIP] free trade agreement.
Maybe not a very serious stumbling block, but combined with differences over GMOs, hormone beef and cheese names, it’s enough to make achieving an “ambitious” agreement, along with its claimed benefits, just that bit more difficult.