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European leaders push back against NSA surveillance at the UN and Washington

European leaders push back against NSA surveillance at the UN and Washington

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United Nations (STOCK)
United Nations (STOCK)

European leaders are continuing to push back against the NSA over allegations that it has been conducting broad surveillance on their citizens. According to Foreign Policy, both Germany and France are now moving to take action in the UN. Diplomats from both countries have begun pressing for the UN to expand rules protecting the privacy of citizens' communications so that online communications are explicitly protected. The resolution could come to a vote at the UN General Assembly's human rights committee later this year.

Though the resolution wouldn't be a direct action against NSA surveillance — and though it would likely come far from stopping NSA surveillance — the hope remains that it could push back against the agency's activities. The action comes following reports that the US had monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel's personal phone and collected 70 million French call records, large allegations that both countries' heads of state have criticized.

EU leaders are descending on Washington

Separately, a group of leaders from the European Union will be meeting in Washington next week to discuss and investigate allegations against the NSA. On Monday, the nine EU delegates will meet with representatives from the Federal Trade Commission and the Departments of Homeland Security, Treasury, Commerce, and State. On Tuesday, they'll meet with members of Congress.

"A key priority for this inquiry is to gather all relevant information and evidence from US sources, which is why this fact-finding delegation to Washington is so important," Claude Moraes, the delegation's leader, says in a statement. "We will have the opportunity to discuss directly with US counterparts the alleged surveillance activities of US authorities and any impact they have in terms of EU citizens' fundamental right to privacy."

The issue was also discussed at an EU summit in Brussels, where Merkel and European Union leaders criticized the NSA's activities as potentially harmful to the fight against terrorism, reports the Guardian. "A lack of trust could prejudice the necessary cooperation in the field of intelligence gathering," a summit statement reportedly read, further explaining that intelligence gathering is a vital piece in the fight against terrorism.

Germany and France reportedly want change this year

Merkel also stressed that her issue was not that her own phone had been monitored, but that her phone represented "the phones of millions of European citizens," reports the Guardian. France and Germany are reportedly looking to limit the damage this might cause to their relationship with the US, but they hope that they can bring about change in the United States' practices nonetheless.

According to the Associated Press, leaders at the summit agreed to maintain strong ties with the US despite the allegations. Even so, it's clear that the leaders aren't happy about what they're hearing, and have been trying to move toward an amicable resolution. France and Germany reportedly see the issue as far more pressing though, likely due to being the subject of more specific spying allegations. The AP reports that both countries want to see the US agree to new surveillance rules by the end of the year.