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7/1/13

EU-US relations: "Hit me once; shame on you. Hit me twice; shame on me".

Even before the PRISM revelations the EU had basically already sold out its citizens privacy rights to the US when it signed the data-sharing deals on air transport passengers and banking transactions..

Whoever reads these two security agreements will quickly come to the conclusion that there is nothing bilateral about them and that the "privacy protected" information going from Europe to the US is not matched in detail by the material coming from the US to Europe.

In the meantime the security issues between the two power blocks have only been getting worse.

On Sunday, the online edition of the British newspaper The Guardian reported additional details about the surveillance program. The newspaper said that one document it had obtained listed 38 embassies and diplomatic missions in Washington and New York, describing them as “targets.” It detailed a broad range of spying methods used against one, including bugs implanted in electronic communications gear and the collection of transmissions using specialized antennas.

The list of targets included the European Union’s missions and the French, Italian and Greek Embassies, as well as those of several other American allies, including India, Japan, Mexico, South Korea and Turkey, The Guardian reported.

In an interview published in full last night on "Davies' blog", former NSA director General Michael Hayden said: "The changes made to Fisa in 2008 were far more dramatic – far more far-reaching than anything President Bush authorized me to do."

Davies told the Observer that confirmation of the secret agreements showed there was a need for the EU to investigate. "It's clear that the European parliament must intervene at this point through a public inquiry," Davies said.

"MEPs should put the interests of their citizens above party politics and create meaningful reforms."

Its been going on for quite awhile - this covert data-sharing relationship between leading European countries and the US was first outlined in a 2001 report by the European parliament.

In Germany, where criticism of the NSA’s surveillance programs has been particularly vocal, a senior government official accused the United States on Sunday of using Cold War methods against its allies by targeting EU offices in Washington, New York and Brussels.

German federal prosecutors said they were examining whether the reported U.S. electronic surveillance programs broke German laws. In a statement, the Federal Prosecutors’ Office said it was probing the claims so as to “achieve a reliable factual basis” before considering whether a formal investigation was warranted.

It said private citizens were likely to file criminal complaints on the matter, but didn’t comment on the possible legal merits of such complaints.

Meanwhile, it has also emerged that at least six European member states have shared personal communications data with the NSA, according to declassified US intelligence reports and EU parliamentary documents.

The documents, seen by the Observer, show that – in addition to the UK – Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy have all had formal agreements to provide communications data to the US. They state that the EU countries have had "second and third party status" under decades-old signal intelligence (Sigint) agreements that compel them to hand over data which, in later years, experts believe, has come to include mobile phone and internet data.

Under the international intelligence agreements, nations are categorized by the US according to their trust level. The US is defined as 'first party' while the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand enjoy 'second party' trusted relationships. Countries such as Germany and France have 'third party', or less trusted, relationships.

Investigations on security breaches by the EU Parliament and other European agencies should, however, not only focus just on the US. 

There are lots of security issues which deserve attention  One of them concerns the Chinese, who not only have proven to be A1 cyber spies but also have shown to be able to infiltrate into a country's economic structure quite legally.

During the past 5 years Europe has had a large influx of Chinese immigrants, many of the highly qualified University trained computer analysts, who were given "fast track" immigrant status by local EU Governments. This mainly because of their excellent educational qualifications. Today we find many of them employed in strategically and economically important companies ( some even in Government) all across Europe.

With the latest security allegations it should be quite clear to EU parliamentarians and politicians around Europe that the time to play "footsy" with the Americans, or any other nation for that matter, on issues of security is over. As the saying goes, "Hit me once; shame on you. Hit me twice; shame on me".

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