German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday she was still waiting for more details from the U.S. about the National Security Agency’s online data-collection and electronic surveillance efforts directed toward Germans, but warned that U.S. Internet firms doing business in Europe must abide by European law.
“I expect a clear commitment from the U.S. government that they will adhere to German law in the future when on German soil,” Mrs. Merkel said in a 20-minute interview with German television. “We are friends and allies. We are in a defense alliance, and we need to be able to rely on each other.”
She said that a recent trip to Washington by German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich “could only be a first step” in getting details about the surveillance programs exposed by NSA leaker Edward J. Snowden.
Mrs. Merkel, who has been attacked by the opposition Social Democratic party for allowing the surveillance, said she did not yet know whether the NSA had breached German laws, according to an account of the interview published by state broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
In the meantime, the German chancellor said the relationship Mr. Snowden exposed between the NSA and U.S. Internet service providers underlined the need for a European-wide privacy regime.
“We want these companies to tell us in Europe to whom they give our data,” she said. “We have a truly excellent federal data protection law [in Germany], but if Facebook is registered in Ireland, then Irish law applies, and that’s why we need a unified European directive [on privacy].”
Mrs. Merkel added that, so far as she knew, her own communications had not been tapped.
Social Democrat Peer Steinbruck, who will run against Mrs. Merkel in September’s elections, called for a parliamentary investigation of the chancellor for possible dereliction of duty, the Bild am Sonntag Sunday newspaper reported.