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Merkel wants European communication network

German chancellor says proposal to create network to avoid US surveillance will be discussed with French president.

Last updated: 16 Feb 2014 00:55
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Merkel's mobile phone was reportedly among those monitored by US spies [Getty Images]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she will talk to French President Francois Hollande about creating a European communication network to avoid emails and other data passing through the US.

Merkel, who visits France on Wednesday, has been pushing for greater data protection in Europe following reports last year about mass surveillance in Germany and elsewhere by the US National Security Agency (NSA).

Merkel's mobile phone was reportedly among those monitored by US spies.

In her weekly podcast on Saturday, the chancellor voiced her disapproval of companies such as Google and Facebook basing their operations in countries with low levels of data protection, while being active in countries such as Germany with high data protection, the Reuters news agency reported.

We've got to do more for data protection in Europe, there's no doubt about it

Angela Merkel, German chancellor

"We'll talk with France about how we can maintain a high level of data protection," Merkel said.

"Above all, we'll talk about European providers that offer security for our citizens, so that one shouldn't have to send emails and other information across the Atlantic.

"Rather, one could build up a communication network inside Europe."

Hollande's office confirmed that the governments had been discussing the matter and said Paris agreed with Berlin's proposals.

"Now that the German government is formed, it is important that we take up the initiative together," an official said.

Widespread outrage

Government snooping is a particularly sensitive subject in Germany due to the heavy surveillance of citizens practised in communist East Germany and under Hitler, and there was widespread outrage at the revelations of US surveillance by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

"We've got to do more for data protection in Europe, there's no doubt about it," Merkel said on Saturday.

Germany has been pushing, so far in vain, for a 'no-spy' agreement with Washington, similar to the one between the US and Britain.

Merkel plans to discuss closer cooperation on climate protection with Hollande in the run-up to a global climate conference in France next year, as well as security policies, in particular with respect to Africa, Reuters reported.

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