THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT has reacted to US National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance revelations by voting to stop sending banking information to the US.
The Parliament voted in favour of suspending the SWIFT bank transfer data agreement. It revealed the result of the vote on Twitter, saying, "EP calls for suspension of agreement with USA on exchanging bank data after #NSA scandal," and asking whether the European Council would follow.
Green home affairs spokesperson Jan Philipp Albrecht, who is the rapporteur for EU data protection rules, said that the vote is a sign that Parliament is fed up with looking ridiculous in the face of revelations about NSA surveillance.
"In calling for the EU-US SWIFT agreement to be suspended, the European Parliament has today sent a clear message that enough is enough. The revelations about NSA interception of SWIFT data make a mockery of the EU's agreement with the US, through which the bank data of European citizens is delivered to the US anti-terror system," he said.
"What is the purpose of an agreement like this, which was concluded in good faith, if the US authorities are going to circumvent its provisions?"
This, said Albrecht is the European Parliament sticking up for itself and the people of Europe, and follows a series of "ongoing revelations", referring the almost constant stream of chilling information being released from materials taken by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
"The EU cannot continue to remain silent in the face of these ongoing revelations: it gives the impression we are little more than a lap dog of the US," he added.
"If we are to have a healthy relationship with the US, based on mutual respect and benefit, EU governments must not be afraid of defending core EU values when they are infringed. EU leaders must finally take a clear and unambiguous stance on the NSA violations at this week's summit."
One of the most recent revelations is detailed in French newspaper Le Monde. There we read that the NSA allegedly intercepted great swathes of ordinary French telephone traffic.
This has raised hackles in France, and expressions of outraged displeasure have reached as far as US President Barack Obama.
President Obama called his French counterpart François Hollande, said a statement from the White House.
The White House did not provide a transcript of the call, but said that the two presidents "discussed recent disclosures in the press".
It added that some of those reports have "distorted our activities" while some have raised "legitimate questions for our friends and allies about how these capabilities are employed".
The White House added that the US is reviewing the way it gathers intelligence, and said that it intends to "properly balance the legitimate security concerns of our citizens and allies with the privacy concerns that all people share". µ