Reality check: NSA spying pales in comparison to European efforts


Despite the furor over PRISM, the U.S. National Security Agency’s data collection program, you are far more likely to be spied upon by the authorities if you live Italy or the Netherlands than if you live in the good old, US of A, a former NSA general counsel told Congress recently.

The difference is the surveilling over there is typically done by law enforcement organizations rather than a national super-spy agency and some say oversight here is actually tighter. According to security expert Chris Wolf:

“We can have a debate over whether or not the judicial and legislative approval process is working here in America, but the fact is, it exists, and in many places in Europe you don’t have that kind of due process … You don’t have legislative oversight. In fact, the national security investigations are done completely in the dark or mostly in the dark.”



First, two wrongs don’t make a right

Second, the Europeans are not complaining that the US is spying on US citizens. They are complaining that the US is spying on their citizens. Arguments that they are also spying on their citizens, or that the US has greater democratic oversight of its efforts to spy on its own citizens, are completely irrelevant – a *European* citizen has absolutely zero democratic oversight of *US* spying on him/her.

Kevin Morrison

The reality check is that you made this article. This article is a part of the problem. The “but mom everyone else is doing it defense”? Really? Ben Franklin, ” Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” I’m a little ashamed this came from Gigaom on your behalf. Enough said.

Barb Darrow

The topic of the original NPR story (linked above) was: Who is spied on more, US citizens or other citizens…
Thanks for your comment.

Chris DC

Let me briefly paraphrase the idiocy of this “story”:

“You’re far more likely to be killed in a Soviet gulag than a concentration camp said a former Nazi general counsel.”

Is their water light enough that it’s so easy to carry?

The point is that pre-gathering data THEN getting a rubber stamp warrant to search if from Judge Freisler is about as wildly anti-Constitutional as it gets and data mining for terrorism just doesn’t work:

1. Boston bombing – Russia and Saudi Arabia actually warned the US about the Tsarnevs by name, the US said “No, we’ve got it handled by spying on the Adultfriendfinder message boards.”
2. Shoe bomber.
3. Underwear bomber.
4. Frankly the ones they SAY they stopped they have no real proof of.

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