German chancellor demands tougher EU data protection laws

Angela Merkel demands that US internet firms comply with EU rules over personal data

German chancellor Angela Merkel has called for a tightening of EU data protection laws to ensure greater transparency from US Internet companies over the use of personal data, according to Reuters.

In a television interview on Sunday Merkel said that Germany will take a "strict position" on data protection following reports of spying from US intelligence services, and will demand that internet companies provide more clarity over who they pass data on to.

Last month US government contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the US National Security Agency had been accessing data on European citizens collated by large Internet companies such as Facebook, Skype and Google as part of the Prism surveillance programme.

Merkel told ARD television she would push for the unification of EU data protection rules to ensure that US technology firms registered in other parts of Europe, such as Ireland, were forced to comply with the same laws.

Merkel's demands echoed calls from the European Commission for more transparency from the US, which EU officials have claimed have led to a breakdown of trust in the wake of the reports around the Prism programme.

The EC has also warned that allegations of spying on European citizens could have an impact on US business, with EC vice president Neelie Kroes recently claiming that the Prism scandal could cost cloud computing companies "billions" in lost revenues.

Merkel also responded to reports of US intelligence eavesdropping on EU and German officials, which have seen tensions further rise between the two nations.

Merkel said: "I expect a clear commitment from the US government that in future they will stick to German law."

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