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Slide from PRISM presentation showing all the information NSA has access to from nine Internet Services
While some are claiming that the Obama administration's NSA spying program isn't really happening, or that if it is happening it's no big deal, or that if it is happening and it is a big deal it's necessary to protect us from the bad guys, the international reaction is not quite so complacent. The governments of key U.S. allies are demanding more information, while also attempting to assure their citizens that they wouldn't do what the U.S. is doing.

Canada:

The Conservative government flatly denies Canadian spy agencies are conducting any unauthorized electronic snooping operations.

After facing questions from the NDP Opposition about how far he has authorized Ottawa’s top secret eavesdropping spy agency to go, a terse Conservative Defence Minister Peter MacKay left the Commons, telling the Star: “We don’t target Canadians, okay.”...

Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart’s office issued a statement Monday saying developments in the U.S. and here have raised “significant concerns” about the scope of information being collected.

Stoddart acknowledged that at this stage she, too, is at a loss to really know whether any lines have been crossed.

More countries' reactions to the NSA spying program after the fold.

Britain:

David Blunkett has urged the government to review the law on the oversight of intelligence agencies in order to strengthen ministerial scrutiny of information on UK citizens provided by US intelligence agencies.

During a Commons debate William Hague, the foreign secretary, insisted British laws did not allow for "indiscriminate trawling" for information.

But, in probably the most telling contribution in the hour-long exchanges, Blunkett, the former home secretary, asked: "Can we take a closer look at how other agencies, including the National Security Agency and our friends and colleagues in the US, use material gathered from network and service providers, and offer it, rather than having it sought from them, in a way that makes authorisation extremely difficult?"

The European Union:
The EU is demanding assurances that Europeans are not having their rights infringed by a massive US surveillance programme.

Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding plans to raise the concerns with US Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday.

Germany, as written by Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger:
The more a society monitors, controls and observes its citizens, the less free it is. In a democratic constitutional state, security is not an end in itself, but serves to secure freedom....

We should remember that the strength of the liberal constitutional state lies in the trust of its citizens. Constitutional guarantees protect this trust and pursue two objectives: to punish the guilty and to protect the innocent or those who are unjustly suspected of a crime against wrongful actions by the government. These are precisely the tenets Germany adopted in 1949 from the tradition of the American Constitution of 1776 -- namely that in a free and open democratic process, it is important to avoid the impression that the protection of basic rights is not being taken seriously enough.

The American politician and author Benjamin Franklin once wrote: "Those who give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

The suspicion of excessive surveillance of communication is so alarming that it cannot be ignored. For that reason, openness and clarification by the US administration itself should be paramount at this point. All facts must be put on the table.

Italy:
On the heels of revelations that the United States is surveilling citizens' phone calls and scouring foreigners' Internet records, Italy's privacy watchdog told the parliament Tuesday that its citizens' privacy was also at risk.

Commenting on his first annual report to parliament, Antonello Soro announced that a "general provision" on information gathering will be adopted in the weeks ahead, aiming "to indicate appropriate solutions to elevate the standard of data-protection treaties and to prevent undue disclosure". Earlier this month the US government confirmed leaks that the National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting the phone records of tens of millions of Americans and surveilling online communications to and from foreign targets with the aim of thwarting terrorist attacks. Soro rejected the model adopted in the US and called for tougher safeguards in the European Union. But he added that data surveillance is a "fundamental and irreplaceable investigative resource that must be managed with caution".

Meanwhile, the deputy editor of China Daily USA pointed to the obvious hypocrisy:
After months of accusing the Chinese of cyber espionage, the US itself is struggling with a series of allegations that its government has been engaging in massive intelligence gathering, concerning both its own citizens and people in other parts of the world.
And the Toronto Star bluntly headlined an editorial with this:
U.S. phone spying gives terrorists a win
And elaborated with this:
If Americans preferred not to think about how much they have surrendered in the war on terror, they can’t avoid doing so now. They can’t make a phone call to their dentist or hairdresser without having their home or cellphone number secretly taken down by Washington, along with the other party’s number, the time of the call and its length. It’s that bad.

If Osama bin Laden were still alive he’d chalk up this surveillance gone wild as a coup for Al Qaeda. More than a decade after the 9/11 attack it still has the United States living in fear and trading away freedoms for security. This is beginning to look like a war the U.S. is determined to lose, one way or another.

With the acquiescence of both Democratic and Republican intelligence leaders in Congress who fear being branded soft on terror, both U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration and that of George W. Bush have secretly interpreted the Patriot Act of 2001 so broadly that no one can escape pervasive scrutiny.

The good news is that some lawmakers already are attempting to do something about it. They need and deserve our support.

Originally posted to Laurence Lewis on Tue Jun 11, 2013 at 12:31 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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