Two of the most powerful women in the world are furious at reports that the National Security Agency spied on their phone calls and want the United Nations to reign in mass surveillance.
German and Brazilian diplomats met in New York on Thursday with other Latin American and European government officials to consider a draft resolution that would take the existing privacy rights recognized by the U.N. and apply them to digital networks, Foreign Policy reports. The proposal has not been made public and it does not mention the NSA by name. The diplomats plan to introduce the proposal for a vote in the U.N. General Assembly human rights committee later this year, Foreign Policy reports.
Both Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have denounced the U.S. following reports that the NSA spied on their personal communications. Rousseff addressed the U.N. General Assembly in September criticizing the NSA and calling for the U.N. to establish legal regulations that would prevent abuses on the Internet, including international surveillance and violations of privacy. Merkel called President Barack Obama personally on Wednesday following reports that the NSA has tapped her mobile phone. The reports about the NSA spying on French networks have also created tensions.
Revelations about the expanse of America's international surveillance keep growing. The NSA monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders after another U.S. agency shared a "Rolodex" of 200 numbers, according to a classified document provided to the Guardian by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The NSA memo from October 2006 detailed an example of how U.S. officials who travel in diplomatic circles with foreign politicians could help agency surveillance.
Berlin is seeking a "no-spy agreement" with Washington that would regulate intelligence activity and cooperation between the nations, according to Ronald Pofalla, Merkel's chief of staff and head of Germany's intelligence oversight, according to the Guardian.
"Friends spying on each other is not acceptable," Merkel said during a news briefing on Thursday. "We need to trust in our allies and this trust needs to be rebuilt. This means thinking further about the kind of data privacy we need, about how transparent we are."
Concerns about NSA spying already hastened the passage of draft data privacy protections in the European Union (EU) on Monday.
During a press briefing on Thursday White House Press Secretary Jay Carney reasserted previous statements that the U.S. is working to rebuild trust following the reports about the NSA.
"We're reviewing the way that we gather intelligence," Carney said. "We are discussing the issues that have caused tension, the reports that have caused tension in some of our relationships directly with the countries involved."
The conversation on the NSA's international surveillance reached the point that U.S. politicians and spymasters argue that every nation spies. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said on Wednesday that members of the European Parliament concerned about NSA surveillance should do oversight of their spy agencies and "ask them some really hard questions about what they may or may not be participating in."