Newspaper article International New York Times

Obama Stresses Need to Track Data

Newspaper article International New York Times

Obama Stresses Need to Track Data

Article excerpt

The American president's call for continued vigilance runs counter to the urging of many European privacy officials for greater restraint.

The trans-Atlantic debate over digital privacy rights versus the surveillance needs of intelligence agencies was put under the spotlight on Monday, as President Obama called for continued access by law enforcement officials to thwart terrorism, while some European privacy advocates urged greater restraint.

"I want to say this to young people who value their privacy and spend a lot of time on their phones: The threat of terrorism is real," Mr. Obama said, speaking at a trade show in Hanover, Germany.

"I've worked to reform our surveillance programs to ensure that they're consistent with the rule of law and upholding our values, like privacy -- and, by the way, we include the privacy of people outside of the United States," he added.

Mr. Obama's message comes at a sensitive time, as cities like Brussels and Paris are still recovering from recent terrorist attacks. But his words are unlikely to slow down European efforts to expand people's control over their digital lives.

Europe is at the heart of a global debate over the way companies like Google and Facebook, as well as national intelligence agencies, handle people's digital data. Some regulators in the 28-member bloc have called on companies and governments, particularly that of the United States, to comply with the region's tough privacy regulations.

"Those who want to play in our backyard must play by our rules," Viviane Reding, a member of the European Parliament from Luxembourg, said on Monday at a privacy forum in Berlin. "Protection of our personal data shouldn't have a national barrier," she added.

Ms. Reding is an author of a new European Union privacy law that will go into force in 2018 that will be able to impose fines of up to 4 percent of a company's global revenue for the most serious breaches of European data protection rules. …

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