News Column

US Has Promised a Ban on Economic Espionage, Germany Says

Aug 15, 2013

The United States has verbally assured Germany that a pact to ban mutual spying will include a vow not to snoop for German business secrets, officials said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Brazil said it was unsatisfied with US explanations of alleged large-scale internet data collection.

Washington has been seeking to calm German and other allies since whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed large-scale global internet surveillance. There were allegations that Germany's embassy and EU offices in Washington had been bugged.

Planned negotiations for the "no-spy" pact with the US National Security Agency (NSA) were disclosed Monday by Chancellor Angela Merkel's top aide, Ronald Pofalla. US officials have declined to confirm the discussions.

The pact would include promises not to spy on each another's diplomatic missions or to conduct "economically related espionage," said Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert.

"A verbal assurance exists from the US side," he said. "The negotiations have begun."

Seibert said the talks were being conducted between the heads of the NSA and Germany's BND external intelligence agency.

"This will set an example in our cooperation with other intelligence services," he said.

Though there were no direct talks between Germany and Britain on such a pact, Germany was in talks with European Union nations on a similar set of mutual rules.

Germany's main exports are cars and engineering products. Their success is attributed in part to technological innovations that often keep them a step ahead of competing products on the world market.

German companies frequently complain of illicit attempts to steal their intellectual property.

Seibert has declined to confirm that the German embassy in Washington was bugged, but said that - if true - it would not be acceptable.

The Brazilian government declared Wednesday that US Secretary of State John Kerry's explanations of NSA practices was "insufficient."

Communications Minister Paulo Bernardo told legislators that the government was "not satisfied with the clarifications that were given" during Kerry's Tuesday meetings in Brasilia with President Dilma Rousseff and Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota.

Kerry said that US internet surveillance has helped to "not only protect our nation but protect other people in the world, including Brazilians."

Bernardo said the Brazilian government would likely raise the issue with the United Nations. "These acts of espionage are not just to fight terrorism but also involve issues of industrial, commercial and diplomatic espionage," he said.



Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH


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