EUROPEAN COMMISSION (EC) VP Neelie Kroes has warned attendees at Cebit that trust in the internet is broken for billions of the world's citizens.
Kroes was speaking at an event where UK prime minister Dave Cameron has also spoken. While Cameron spoke about the wonders of the internet and technology, Kroes said that the post-Snowden internet is a shadow of its former self.
Kroes, an opponent of underhanded snooping, said that it will be hard to resolve this.
"It is clear that the cord connecting technology and democracy has been severed," she said. "This is bad for democracy and bad for technology and it will not be easy to stitch the two back together."
Kroes reminded attendees that Germany has been shocked by the revelations, and brought up the surveillance of German Chancellor Merkel.
"To make the 'leap of faith' into this new world, reliability and trust is a pre-condition. But when even the phone of the Chancellor is not sacred, that trust can never again be taken for granted," she said.
"Not only that, it is clear that for millions of Germans, and billions around the world, that trust is now missing. Online trust has many aspects. It is not something that governments or a hardware supplier can simply deliver to you like a package from Amazon."
"What it is about is secure data and strong systems. It's about businesses knowing their cloud data is safe - not in the hands of competitors or governments," added Kroes. "It's about having resilient critical infrastructure so an electricity network breakdown doesn't mean a nuclear meltdown."
Kroes referred back to Chancellor Merkel's suggestion of a local data network, but did not appear to be a fan of that approach. "Protectionism is not the answer. Protectionism is based on a lie - the lie that erecting walls can solve problems and make opponents go away. Germany of all countries knows that walls do not achieve that. no such thing," she added.
"For a European secure communication network, as Bundeskanzlerin Merkel called for recently, we really need to change our mindset. Not just cutting ourselves off from online innovation, but by tightening protections across the value chain."
The digital agenda focused Kroes will look to shake up the EU Network and Information Security directive, and will work with lawmakers to get it ready for this year.
"This EU directive requires companies and governments to take responsibility for your data. A voluntary approach is not enough: not any more. A weak link lets down the whole chain; weak legislation lets down our economy," she added.
"Snowden gave us a wake-up call. Let's not snooze through it. Let's not just act shocked. Let's not turn our back on technology. Instead: let's act to protect ourselves with more than slogans. Let's work together with the best and trusted partners in and outside Europe." µ
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