Germany and France plot US-free network

Germany and France are in talks over a European communications network that could help thwart US spying.

Germany and France plot US-free network

German chancellor Angela Merkel has said she would talk to French president Francois Hollande about keeping email and other data out of the US – though she gave no insight into how a network might work.

Merkel, who will visit France this week, has been pushing for greater data protection in Europe following reports last year about mass surveillance in Germany and elsewhere by the US National Security Agency. Merkel’s cell phone was reportedly monitored by American spies.

We’ll talk with France about how we can maintain a high level of data protection

Merkel said in her weekly podcast that she disapproved of companies such as Google and Facebook basing their operations in countries with low levels of data protection while being active in countries such as Germany with high data protection.

“We’ll talk with France about how we can maintain a high level of data protection,” Merkel said.

“Above all, we’ll talk about European providers that offer security for our citizens, so that one shouldn’t have to send emails and other information across the Atlantic. Rather, one could build up a communication network inside Europe.”

Hollande’s office confirmed that the governments had been discussing the matter and said Paris agreed with Berlin’s proposals.

“Now that the German government is formed, it is important that we take up the initiative together,” an official said.

Walled-off internet

Government snooping is a particularly sensitive subject in Germany due to the heavy surveillance of citizens practised in communist East Germany and under Hitler, and there was widespread outrage at the revelations of NSA surveillance by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

“We’ve got to do more for data protection in Europe, there’s no doubt about it,” Merkel said over the weekend.

This isn’t the first time Germany has floated a walled-off network, after Deutsche Telekom outlined an ambitious plan to keep German internet traffic within the country’s borders.

Experts pointed out Deutsche Telekom’s own dubious security history – one employee was jailed in 2008 for spying on colleagues at the company – and that drastic moves would be needed to keep traffic local.

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