Unacceptable action

Reports that the US National  Security Agency has been regularly tapping  the telephones of leaders of even friendly countries and allies like Germany and France show the extensiveness of the electronic spying done by America all over the world.

According to latest revelations German chancellor  Angela Merkel’s telephones have been tapped for a long time, as also the conversations of French President Francois Hollande. International espionage through interception of communications has been a fact of life and everyone knows that countries resort to  it in various ways.  But the extent of such snooping has come to light only with the disclosures made by Edward Snowden. The initial revelations that all internet data, official and others, which moved across the world was being accessed by the US had  led to a storm of protests. The latest details present a worse scenario.

Both Merkel and Hollande have spoken to president Obama to protest against the snooping. Though the president was apologetic and claimed ignorance about the NIA’s  actions, it is now known that he was well aware of them and had in fact ordered the tapping of  Merkel’s phone. The revelations have soured relations between the US and its allies in Europe. What was initially sought to be justified as an attempt to monitor the plans and activities of terrorists and other potential threats to security has now turned out to be a well-planned programme of intrusion into the privacy of people and the official secrecy of  nations. Though Obama has assured the leaders of allies that the surveillance of their communications has been stopped this will not be believed.

Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff cancelled an official visit to the US in protest against the tapping of her communications. Relations between the US and several South American countries like Mexico, Colombia and Chile have  become strained because of the  revelations of spying. India has also been subjected to such surveillance. Some countries are planning to approach the UN on the matter. But this may not provide an effective solution.  Brazil is thinking of a legislation which will force major internet networks to store data locally. This is because all such networks are based in the US and leakage of data to the American spying agencies from their systems is easy. Development of such legal and technological barriers will be more effective than depending on US assurances.

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