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President Obama called on carpet for PRISM program by European leaders

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 11th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Accusations of far-reaching invasions of privacy among American citizens have certainly besmirched U.S. President Barack Obama's reputation - and it has dimmed the opinions of his European contemporaries as well. President Barack Obama will face a barrage of questions and criticism about the U.S.'s spying programs from European leaders when he attends the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland later this week.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic online) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she will ask Obama about the "possible impairment of the rights of German citizens" when he visits Berlin next week. European Unions officials along with authorities in Italy have also publicly expressed concerns about the widespread surveillance activities.

The Italian commissioner in charge of data protection, Antonello Soro, went so far as to say that such programs supposedly at work in the U.S. "would not be legal in Italy," adding that PRISM and a cell phone "dragnet" that tracks all incoming and outgoing calls would be "contrary to the principles of our legislation and would represent a very serious violation."

In Obama's defense, some British leaders say that the United Kingdom benefited from the Obama Administration's mass intelligence-gathering sources -- although they insist that all the information went through the traditional legal channels.

Obama is already facing and uproar in the United States after NSA data collection programs were made public last week by former contractor Edward Snowden.

PRISM, which collects online information about users of products by Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple only targets foreigners and that U.S. citizens are exempt from monitoring.

Leaders of European nations are now questioning whether the program violates their privacy protection laws.

European Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding said that "a clear legal framework for the protection of personal data is not a luxury or constraint but a fundamental right." She promised to press Obama on the PRISM program at the G8 summit.

Adding to the chorus of condemnation, Germany's federal data protections commissioner Peter Schaar called the snooping on German citizens "unacceptable."

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