European countries – notably Germany and France – are desperate to get a handle on their own networks without relying on a meddlesome middleman in the aftermath of Edward Snowden’s whistle-blowing activities at the National Security Agency, which proved that much of the world’s telecommunication meta-data is being stored away in the United States.
Germany’s outrage over the revelations hit full stride last month when Der Spiegel, the popular daily newspaper, asked if it is time for the country to open a formal espionage investigation following yet more disclosures that Britain’s GCHQ infiltrated German internet companies and the NSA collected information about German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a special database.
Now, US trade officials are up in arms over proposals by Germany’s Deutsche Telekom (in which the German government owns less than 30 percent), to avoid passing communications to the United States, saying the move would give European companies an unfair advantage over their US colleagues.
If the European-centric plan gets the go ahead, it would require the dismantlement of the Safe Harbor agreement that allows US companies access to European data. It should be noted that despite the work of the NSA, Europe has some of the strictest privacy laws in the world.