News / USA

US Allies Remain Skeptical of Obama’s Surveillance Reforms

Henry Ridgwell
There has been a muted response from U.S. allies to President Obama’s plans to curb the surveillance activities of the  National Security Agency. Documents leaked by fugitive intelligence analyst Edward Snowden suggested the agency has been collecting electronic data on millions of American and foreign civilians, and had tapped the phones of foreign leaders.  

The leaked documents revealed the National Security Agency had harvested data on the phone calls, emails and SMS messages of millions of people across the globe.

The president sought to quell anger among U.S. allies by extending some privacy protections enjoyed by U.S. nationals to foreign citizens.

The changes are unlikely to change global opinion, however, according to London School of Economics International Relations Professor Chris Brown. “The people who were fairly relaxed about it beforehand will be quite reassured by these words. But the people who were not relaxed will not be.”

Monitoring Merkel

The leaked documents revealed last year that the United States had tapped the cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel - prompting a furious response from Berlin.

In his speech Friday, Obama pledged to tighten the protocol for decisions on spying on foreign leaders.

“Obama has apologized for that, he has said it will not happen again," said Brown. "He has gone out of his way to go on German television to try to reassure. But I do not think he has.”

German Green Party lawmaker Hans-Christian Stroebele, who sits on a parliamentary intelligence committee, remains unsatisfied with the reforms and wants Europe to demand more answers from Washington.

Stroebele said the debate gives the German Bundestag and parliaments in other European countries the opportunity to talk openly on the topic of surveillance with colleagues in the U.S. Congress, and to ask what it all means for Germany, and the steps that must now be taken.

Diplomatic dance

Spying on foreign leaders is not legally problematic, but rather a diplomatic issue, said Professor Stephen Vladeck of the American University College of Law.

“What is the best way for the president to at once preserve our capabilities to know what our friends and enemies are up to overseas, while not provoking these very uncomfortable conversations with Germany, with France, with China over the extent to which we are criticizing their governments for doing the exact same intelligence gathering that it now seems we are doing to them," he said.

Many European leaders would like to move on from the mass surveillance revelations, which have engulfed their own intelligence agencies, said Brown. “If they are a major European country, they know that they have agencies that do this themselves. The trouble is their public opinion is very upset about this, and if you are a democratic leader you have to listen.”

Analysts say that as long as fugitive intelligence analyst Edward Snowden continues to leak information on NSA activities, global anger over the extent of U.S. surveillance likely will remain high.

You May Like

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Gloria from: USA
January 21, 2014 3:23 AM
we have got to understand that these guys are not "extremists Muslims" these guys are not "militant Muslims" these guys are not the psychotic Iranians chanting death to America and death to Israel... these suicide Muslim are ordinary Muslims... the type of scumbags you would find anywhere... the tsarnaev brothers could have easily enlisted into our military and could have caused far worse disaster to our nation... these scumbags are ordinary everyday Muslims... remember that... this evil is far more insidious than you imagine

by: Nina from: New York
January 20, 2014 6:32 PM
Nobody really cares about their privacy. They just say they do because deep down they know they are supposed to. But in reality they couldn't care less, as evidenced by their use of Google and Facebook. These sites are the real violators of our privacy, much more than the NSA. People that really, truly care about their privacy don't used those sites. Instead, they use sites like Ravetree, DuckDuckGo, HushMail, etc. Don't be a fake privacy advocate - be a real one.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs