Appeal for calm reflection as US spy-row inquiry starts in Brussels

04-Sep-2013 @ 9:0

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Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

MEPs are being urged to show some calm, restraint and a sense of proportion when they begin tomorrow (Thursday) looking into spying allegations against the United States.

The experienced Conservative MEP Timothy Kirkhope made the appeal on the eve of the first hearing in a series called in the wake of the controversy surrounding the so-called PRISM programme or surveillance, said to have included the accessing of computer activity by EU citizens and organisations.

Mr Kirkhope said: "I can only hope that the tone of these hearings does not simply pick up where earlier debates on this issue left off.

"Sadly, those discussion were characterised by a nakedly anti-American agenda on the part of many participants. Too many saw it as a chance to shout the odds rather than to listen, learn and reflect.

"It would be good to think that those with shriller voices have now got such prejudices off their chests and will be willing to approach these hearings dispassionately and in a spirit of curiosity rather than condemnation.

"Several companies were named and shamed in the initial leaks and supposed revelations, but all have so far denied acting outside of the law. Governments and the European Commission have also expressed concern, but have acknowledge that it is too early to draw final conclusions.

"We must not forget that terrorists and organised criminal groups are increasingly using information and technology against innocent citizens. There has to be an expectation that the same technology will be used in our response, but we must be doing this in a lawful way, which respects not just the privacy of US citizens but those of Britain and the EU too.

"This is not the time for rushing to judgment, but for patiently gathering facts and details, for carrying out a proper investigation."

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