Angela Merkel wants strong rules on data privacy

Urges European, global changes

BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for tougher European and global rules on telephone and Internet data protection on Sunday amid fallout from recent revelations about US surveillance programs.

Merkel pledged that Germany will take a ‘‘very strict position’’ in ongoing talks on European Union-wide data rules. Germany will push for those rules to oblige Internet companies such as Google and Facebook to tell European countries who they share data with, she told ARD television.

The chancellor also suggested that a protocol on data protection could be added to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a UN accord that dates back to 1966. She didn’t give details of what that protocol might entail.


Germans are sensitive about protecting their personal data. Ahead of September elections in which the conservative Merkel is seeking a third term, the center-left opposition says her government isn’t doing enough to address those worries and confront the United States.

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Germany’s top security official, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, met in Washington on Friday with Attorney General Eric Holder and Vice President Joe Biden. He declared himself satisfied with the meetings and stressed the need to prevent attacks, saying afterward that a US program called PRISM searches in a ‘‘very targeted’’ way for terrorism-related information.

Merkel’s opponents asserted that Friedrich made no headway in securing information on US surveillance activities — renewing attacks that have yet to produce any obvious shift in polls.

Merkel said Friedrich’s trip ‘‘can only be a first step’’ in discussions with the United States and that experts from the two countries will remain in contact.

She said she expects ‘‘a clear commitment from the American government for the future that they will keep to German law on German soil.’’


She added, however, that she has no evidence at this point that US agencies haven’t done so in the past.

In a separate development, Russian immigration officials said over the weekend that they have not received an application from Edward Snowden, the fugitive US intelligence contractor who wants to get asylum in Russia.

Snowden is wanted on a US warrant charging him with violating the espionage laws by leaking classified National Security Agency documents.

Snowden came to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo international airport on June 23 from Hong Kong, apparently intending to board a flight to Cuba. But he did not get on that flight.