Merkel implores UK to toughen up against US spying with new European data laws

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for unified European data protection laws, following the Prism scandal.

In an interview with broadcaster ARD, Merkel spoke strongly about the need for change, giving the clearest indication yet that the US government's spying breached German rules, saying, "I expect a clear commitment from the US government that in future they will stick to German law."

Merkel proposed two methods of tightening up online data security.

Firstly, she wants all Internet service providers to disclose the personal information they have collected and reveal who has access to it.

"Germany will make it clear that we want Internet firms to tell us in Europe who they are giving data to," she said.

She also called on other European nations, like the UK and Ireland, to adopt Europe-wide policies in regards to the issue, asking them to support stricter regulations which would clamp down on the activities of multinationals like Facebook and Google.

"We have a great data protection law," said Merkel. "But if Facebook is registered in Ireland, then Irish law is valid, and therefore we need unified European rules."

The NSA spying revelations have been turned into a full-blown election issue in Germany, with Merkel currently topping the polls table.

The interview follows comments made by opposition Peer Steinbrück, who told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag, "Mrs Merkel swore the oath of office to protect the German people from harm. Now it emerges that German citizens' basic rights were massively abused."

The scale of the US spying network is still largely unknown, with Merkel saying that German officials were still trying to discover whether Merkel's own telephone was bugged by the US.

"Germany will take a strict position," Merkel concluded in her interview.

At the end of last week, new documents released by Edward Snowden indicated that Microsoft had worked closely with the US intelligence agencies, even helping the NSA break down its own encryptions.

Image credit: Flickr (kozusnik.eu)