German Ministers questioned major Internet companies on Friday about the United States’ tracking of web activity, even as a senior European Union official said the U.S. had agreed to share information with the E.U. about its huge Internet and phone surveillance programme.
Also on Friday, Attorney-General Eric Holder said that the U.S. was confident of bringing former CIA employee Edward Snowden to justice for “extremely damaging” leaks about the surveillance programmes.
German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said European-based company representatives of Microsoft and Google did not have information on the tracking programme and open questions remain about the broader issue of intelligence access to user data. Facebook sent a reply to a series of questions and Apple did not participate in the meeting.
Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to raise the issue with U.S. President Obama when he visits Berlin next week.
Meanwhile, E.U. Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom and Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding secured the agreement on sharing of information on surveillance after talks with U.S. Attorney-General Mr. Holder in Dublin.
“Agreed with the U.S. in Dublin to set up a transatlantic expert group to receive more info on PRISM and look at the safeguards,” Ms. Malmstrom said on Twitter, without elaborating.
After the meeting with E.U. officials Mr. Holder told media persons in Dublin that he was confident that Mr. Snowden will be held accountable.
“The national security of the United States has been damaged by those leaks. The safety of the American people and safety of people in allied nations is at risk,” he said.