Berlin still has questions after US Internet firm spy talks
Berlin: Germany signalled disappointment Friday that a meeting with US Internet companies Microsoft and Google over a secret Internet US surveillance programme had failed to provide answers to its concerns.
Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said in a statement afterwards that there had been "no concrete answers" given by the representatives of the Internet giants at the meeting.
While Microsoft and Google were represented at the talks, Facebook had sent its answers in writing, according to the local DPA news agency.
"We got more open questions than answers," Hans-Joachim Otto, state secretary in the economy ministry, said in the same statement.
The German government earlier in the week announced it was sending a list of questions, including on the extent of the activity, to the US administration after two newspapers revealed the surveillance programme.
Under the so-called PRISM programme, the US National Security Agency can issue directives to Internet firms like Google or Facebook to gain access to emails, online chats, pictures, files and videos that have been uploaded by foreign users.
In Friday's talks on the extent to which data from Google and Microsoft servers was diverted to the US authorities, both companies had been "vague" on their cooperation with the US secret services, government sources said.
Both firms also asked the German government to support their plan to create more transparency and urged German Chancellor Angela Merkel to address the issue with US President Barack Obama, the sources said.
Merkel's spokesman has said the issue of the PRISM programme is sure to arise during Obama's visit to Berlin next week.
"It's not about putting anybody in the dock," Otto said, adding it was to do with a common interest in ensuring there was "no excessive uncertainty" and that the "degree of transparency" is increased.
He said the talks with the US companies would continue.