German Minister calls for punishment of US companies involved in NSA spying

The revelations of mass online spying by US government agencies that involved cooperation from the British and the German governments and intelligence services, as well as the upcoming elections have forced the German government to try to match the indignation of the country’s citizens with some action.

A few days ago they symbolically called off the Cold War-era surveillance pact with the US and Britain, and now German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger is calling for EU-wide punitive measures to be introduced for corporations that have been found participating in the US spying activities.

Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger didn’t specify what kind of measures she had in mind, but maintains that, in general, privacy and data protection laws in the EU should be modeled after German ones as they are far more stringent, reports Der Spiegel.

On the other hand, former German High Court Justice Hans-J??rgen Papier says that while the government is responsible for protecting its citizens from foreign powers, it is limited to doing what they are legally allowed to.

He pointed out that the current worldwide state of digital affairs makes it easy for countries to curtail freedoms and rights of citizens of other countries, and that the victims can’t do much about it, then added that the time had come for a worldwide agreement on data protection.

The opposition is understandably attacking the current government and claiming that Chancellor Angela Merkel has been unreasonably casual about the whole affair, but it’s difficult to tell how much of this is just posturing and an attempt to get the public to vote for them.

I guess that we’ll have to still wait a while to see how the German government – this or another one – will ultimately handle this hot potato.

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