Merkel pushes for EU deal on data protection

GERMAN chancellor Angela Merkel vowed yesterday to push for tougher EU data protection rules and force Internet firms to be more open as she tried to reassure voters before a September election about intrusive snooping by US intelligence in Germany.

In an interview with ARD television, Merkel also said she expected the US to stick to German laws in future, the closest she has come to acknowledging that its spying techniques may have breached German rules.

The question of how much Merkel and her government knew about reports of intrusive surveillance by the US National Security Agency in Germany has touched a raw nerve and could yet affect the outcome of September’s election.

Merkel said tighter European rules were needed.

“Germany will make clear that we want Internet firms to tell us in Europe who they are giving data to,” she told ARD.

“We have a great data protection law. But if Facebook is registered in Ireland, then Irish law is valid, and therefore we need unified European rules,” she said, adding that people were rightly worried about what happened to data outside Germany.

“Germany will take a strict position,” she said.

She also backed calls from some of her cabinet ministers to add a protocol on data protection to an existing United Nations agreement on civil and political rights.