February 17, 2014, 5:39 AM —
Image credit: REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande will discuss this week how Europe can keep email traffic away from U.S. servers.
Merkel is planning to discuss this issue when she meets her French colleague on Wednesday, she said in a weekly podcast.
"We will talk with France about how we can maintain a high level of data protection. Above all, we will discuss which European providers we have who offer security to citizens. So that you don't have to cross the Atlantic with emails and other things, but also can build up communication networks within Europe," Merkel said Saturday.
The talks come in the wake of the revelations about the surveillance programs of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). The agency allegedly monitored phone calls and emails from millions of people including German citizens, while it also allegedly spied on Merkel's phone.
Meanwhile, the German federal prosecutor is considering starting a formal investigation into Germany's part in the NSA affair. The German government, including Merkel, are targeted in a criminal complaint filed by human rights groups in Germany for allegedly aiding the NSA in its spying efforts.
During the podcast, Merkel also discussed data protection issues with Google that have been going on for years in Europe.
In the latest development, the company published commitments to settle an E.U. antitrust case that was started in 2010 on Friday.
Over the last couple of years there have also been privacy and data protection issues with other big tech companies, like Facebook for instance, in several E.U. countries, including Germany.
"We need to do more for data protection in Europe, that is indisputable," Merkel said when asked if she thought that a German/French or European data protection network could mitigate privacy troubles with big tech companies.
At the moment there are negotiations for a uniform data protection standard in Europe, Merkel said. However, such a standard is not easy to negotiate because some countries have less stringent data protection than Germany, she added.
"And we don't want our data protection weakened," Merkel said. On the other hand, if there won't be an E.U. wide data protection regime, companies like Google and Facebook can settle where the data protection level is lowest, she said.