Predictions that the NSA spying scandals would all soon blow over don't seem to be holding up especially well. Today Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff delivered a speech at the UN general assembly denouncing the NSA's infringement of her countries national sovereignty and calling on the UN to find a means of assuring internet protections. Now the EU is also making its displeasure heard.
The European Union is threatening to freeze a crucial and controversial data-sharing deal with the US aimed at tracking terrorist funding because of the National Security Agency snooping scandal.
Cecilia Malmstrom, the EU commissioner responsible for dealing with the fallout from the NSA and GCHQ disclosures, said she was unhappy with the information supplied by the US government and that the so-called SWIFT agreement of 2010 which supplies bank and credit card transaction data to the US treasury to help track terrorist funding may need to be suspended if the Americans were breaking the deal.
The parliament, however, is not empowered to scrap the transatlantic agreements. Malmstrom and the European commission would need to conclude that the Americans were in breach, propose a suspension of the agreement, and then the 28 governments of the EU would need to agree. That could prove a tall order.When this agreement was adopted in 2010 the US was in a position to shove past all objections by repeatedly chanting the magic T word. Now it seems that the S word is beginning to hold some sway. If the proposal to cancel the agreement moves on up the line to the heads of government, it will be very interesting to watch the politics involved.
Malmstrom said the decision would need to be unanimous among EU governments, meaning, for example, that Britain would have a veto. With Britain's GCHQ heavily involved in the European snooping and surveillance operations, the UK is in an awkward position, both in the EU but also party with the US in the controversy.