EU Says U.S. Gives Assurances on Prism Surveillance Program

The European Union said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder provided “assurances” about the Prism surveillance program amid concerns over its impact on EU citizens.

The EU’s questions about the once-secret program “have been answered very clearly by Eric Holder,” EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding told reporters today in Dublin after a meeting with the U.S. official.

Reding had voiced “serious concerns” that the U.S. was accessing and processing data of EU citizens using American online service providers under the Prism program, according to a June 10 letter to Holder obtained by Bloomberg News.

Holder explained that under the Prism program, “there has to be a court order, that it can only be done when there is a serious presumption of crime and that it is not an invasive overall spying on every citizen’s communication,” Reding said. She said the two sides agreed to set up an EU-U.S. panel of experts “in order to clarify together the remaining matters” regarding the Prism program.

Reding said she also received “answers and assurances” on a separate U.S. surveillance program to collect phone records of Verizon Communications Inc. customers. The Verizon program is “directed mainly toward U.S. citizens. It is about metadata, not about content,” she said.

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