Merkel Says U.S. Must Adhere to German Law Amid Spying Dispute

Chancellor Angela Merkel said U.S. authorities must adhere to Germany’s data-protection law when operating on German soil as her interior minister came under fire for defending U.S. surveillance activities.

While Merkel has asserted the need for balance between security considerations and privacy, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich returned from a trip to the U.S. yesterday saying that programs such as the U.S. National Security Agency’s newly disclosed Prism program have prevented terrorist attacks.

Merkel’s challenger in national elections, which are 10 weeks away, Social Democrat Peer Steinbrueck, told Bild Friedrich’s visit was a “complete insult.” He also took aim at the chancellor, suggesting she violated her oath of office to protect Germans by not preventing the mass surveillance.

“What’s especially important to me is that the American services conform to German law on German soil,” Merkel told broadcaster ARD in an interview today. “That will be explored - - whether that was the case in the past or not.”

Merkel also said Germany would push for a unified European Union data-protection regulation requiring technology companies like Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. to disclose to whom they transfer data. She also joined members of her cabinet who have urged an international treaty to guarantee privacy protection.

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