EU demanding answers on US spying programs

The Justice Commissioner of the European Union, Viviane Reding, has sent a letter to Eric Holder demanding answers to a series of questions regarding accessing European citizens’ data. And she wants detailed answers from Eric Holder when he is scheduled to meet with her on Friday.

In her letter to Eric Holder, Ms Reding asks questions on seven areas of concern about Prism and other US data surveillance programmes:

  • Are they only aimed at gathering the data of US citizens and residents, or are they also – or even primarily – targeting non-US nationals, including EU citizens?
  • Is the data collection limited to specific and individual cases and, if so, what criteria is applied?
  • How regularly is the data of individuals collected or processed in bulk?
  • What is the scope of Prism and other such programmes? Is it limited to national security and foreign intelligence, and if so how are such terms defined?
  • How might companies in the US and EU challenge the efforts to access and analyse the data?
  • What ways might EU citizens find out if they have been affected? How is this different to the situation for US citizens and residents?
  • How might EU citizens and companies challenge any effort to access and process their personal data? How does this compare to the rights offered to US citizens and residents?

The answers to these questions could have a very significant impact on current negotiations regarding a free-trade agreement between the US and the EU.