Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The U.S. government has reached an agreement with
leading Internet companies that would allow them to reveal more details about online
data collected by government agencies. The deal marked the latest move aimed at
easing public distrust of the controversial surveillance programs of the U.S. National
Security Agency (NSA).
The agreement would allow Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft and Yahoo to
disclose more aggregate information about how many information requests they
received from the government and how many customer accounts had been affected
under NSA’s mass surveillance programs, the U.S. Justice Department said.
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Newscast Media WASHINGTON—European lawmakers in Washington on Monday blasted the
United States in the wake of reports of massive US surveillance activities against its
allies, including alleged eavesdropping by US intelligence on German Chancellor Angela
Merkel. CONTINUE TO FULL ARTICLE>>
Newscast Media BERLIN—German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called President Obama over the German government’s suspicions the US could have tapped her mobile phone. Barack Obama assured Merkel that his country is not monitoring her communications.
Earlier, the German government spokesman said that Berlin had information the US National Security Agency (NSA) could have been spying on Merkel.
“We swiftly sent a request to our American partners asking for an immediate and comprehensive clarification,” Steffen Seibert said in a statement, Reuters cites.
Berlin demanded that American authorities shed light on the scale of its spying on Germany if it took place and thus finally answer the questions that the Federal government asked “several months ago,” Seibert said.
Merkel called Barack Obama over the issue and demanded an explanation. She had made clear to Obama that if the information proved trued it would be “completely unacceptable” and represent a “grave breach of trust,” Seibert said.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said that Obama assured the German leader “the United States is not monitoring the communications of the chancellor.”
Earlier this year, documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the American spy organization intercepted large amounts of data exchanged between German citizens without any legal authorization. The scandalous revelations outraged Germans and sparked widespread demonstrations in the country which is wary of surveillance, largely due to its Stasi past.
While German opposition politicians, the media and activists have been vocal in their anger over the American eavesdropping, Merkel remained restrained in her comments on the matter.
In June, during Obama’s visit to Berlin, Merkel said she was surprised by the scope of the American data collection efforts, but admitted that Germany was “dependent” on cooperation with US agencies. She said that it was thanks to “tips from American sources” that an Islamic terror plot in Germany was foiled in 2007. She added though that it was important to continue the debate about reaching “an equitable balance” between providing security and protecting personal freedoms.
Interior Ministry spokesman Jens Teschke said Wednesday the German government was still in talks with America about the spying issue.
“[But] we have recognized that many of the allegations made by Mr. Snowden can’t be substantiated, and on other issues that there was no mass surveillance of innocent citizens,” he said, as quoted by AP agency.
Source: Al Manar TV news
Newscast Media PARIS—France does not want an escalation of the row over US snooping on millions of French citizens’ telephone communications, the government’s spokesperson said Tuesday, after a breakfast meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius.
Fabius told Kerry that the snooping, which targeted politicians, businessman and individuals with no public profile, was “unacceptable between friends and allies”.
Kerry had earlier tried to defuse the row, assuring the US’s “old ally” that Washington is reviewing its information-gathering techniques, a message that US President Barack Obama repeated in a call to French President François Hollande.
But French government spokesperson Najat Vallaud-Belkacem on Tuesday seemed to indicate that Paris does not want a confrontation.
“It is up to Foreign Minister Fabius to decide what line we take but I don’t think there is any need for an escalation,” she told France 2 television. “We have to have a respectful relationship between partners, between allies. Our confidence in that has been hit but it is after all a very close, individual relationship that we have.”
Using material obtained by NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, Le Monde newspaper on Monday revealed massive interception of calls, SMS messages and keyboard strokes by the National Security Agency (NSA), which recorded more than 70 million calls in one 30-day period last year.
In further revelations on Tuesday it said that the NSA had shown particular interest in French internet provider Wanadoo and communications giant Alcatel-Mucent and had also spied on French embassies and France’s delegation to the UN.
The spying had helped the US obtain a vote on the UN Security Council in favor of more sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, one NSA internal note boasted. Operatives were instructed to use not just the Prism program, which was exposed by Snowden, but also Upstream, a system that intercepts communications on undersea cables and the world wide web.
The US defends its intelligence-gathering in the name of the fight against “terrorism” but Le Monde says that the “secrets of major national firms” had been probed as well. One document seen by the paper shows that between 8 February and 8 March the NSA collected 124.8 billion pieces of data on phone calls and 97.1 billion digital operations.
Source: Radio France Internationale
Newscast Media BRASILIA—Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has called off an upcoming meeting with President Barack Obama amid allegations of US spying in Brazil. The rift threatens to reverse improved relations between the two trading giants.
The office of Brazilian President Rousseff released a statement on Tuesday announcing the cancellation of a highly-anticipated meeting with President Obama. The talks, which had been scheduled for next month, were expected to highlight the steadily improving relations between the two trade partners. However, revelations of spying by the US National Security Agency (NSA) in Brazil prompted Rousseff to call off the visit, in which she was to have been honored with a state dinner.
Reports from the Brazil daily Globo newspaper, citing documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, have said that US agencies snoop on the phone calls and Internet communications of private citizens, and Rousseff’s own communications with aides. The reports also allege the NSA hacked into the computer network of the state-run energy giant Petrobras.
Washington’s refusal to answer Brasilia’s questions about the allegations and a “commitment to cease such surveillance activities” had created a diplomatic rift between the two countries.
“The conditions are not in place for the visit to go ahead as previously scheduled,” the statement read.
“The illegal interceptions of communications and data of citizens, companies and members of the Brazilian government represents a serious act which violates national sovereignty and is incompatible with democratic coexistence between friendly countries,” it added.
Earlier this year, Snowden leaked information to the UK daily The Guardian about alleged US spying on domestic and international telephone and Internet activities. The White House also commented on the cancelled meeting on Tuesday, contending that both presidents had reached a mutual decision to postpone talks until they could smooth diplomatic relations.
“They both look forward to that visit, which will celebrate our broad relationship,” White House spokesperson Jay Carney said. “We’re certainly acknowledging the concerns that these disclosures have generated in Brazil and other countries.”
“[President Obama] has directed a broad review of U.S. intelligence posture, but the process will take several months to complete,” Carney added.
Other world leaders, including Germany, have decried the alleged NSA spying, but Brazil’s decision to halt talks comes as a first.
Amid public discontent with the Brazilian government’s massive spending on upcoming international sporting events while millions languish in poverty, Rousseff stands to regain political points for standing her ground against the world power.
The negative consequences of halting trade included the possibility of the US losing a major defense contract worth roughly $5 billion (3.74 billion euros). Rousseff had expressed interest in signing a deal with US-based Boeing for the F-18 fighter jets.
However, the disagreement could persuade the Brazilian leader to award the contract to contenders France or Sweden instead.
Source: Deutsche Welle
Newscast Media BRASILIA—Brazil’s Senate formed an Investigative Parliamentary
Commission this week to follow up on reports that the U.S. National Security Agency
(NSA) spied on President Dilma Rousseff.
“We intend to protect national sovereignty,” said Senator Vanessa Graziotin, of the
Communist Party of Brazil (CPB).
The committee, composed of 11 main members and seven substitutes, initially has
180 days to investigate claims the NSA monitored emails between Rousseff and
several of her top aides, and tapped her phone.
The investigative period can be extended by another 180 days if the commission
needs more time.
As the committee’s first order of business, members discussed the possibility of the
state providing federal protection for Rio de Janeiro-based journalist Glenn Greenwald
and his partner David Miranda, considering them to be key witnesses in the
Greenwald was the first to break the story of Washington’s global spying program,
based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Snowden,
who is wanted by the U.S. on espionage charges for revealing the surveillance
scheme, has been given temporary asylum in Russia.
Miranda was recently interrogated for nine hours at London’s Heathrow airport as he
traveled from Germany to Brazil, and had his belongings confiscated. British officials
said they were operating under an anti-terror law, but Greenwald said he believed it
was an attempt to intimidate.
The Senate’s decision to open an investigation follows the broadcast Sunday of a
Brazilian television news program reporting the NSA spied on the highest levels of
Brazil’s government, even targeting the president.
That report was also based on documents leaked by Snowden and made public by
News of NSA spying on Brazil first broke in July, when Brazil’s O Globo daily published
articles alleging the agency had monitored digital communications and phone calls.
Washington has maintained that the spy program is designed to thwart terrorism, but
Brazil says it suspects industrial espionage and has demanded an written official
response from the U.S. government by Friday.
Rousseff is reportedly considering cancelling a scheduled trip to Washington next
month if she receives no answer or an unsatisfactory explanation from the U.S.