Former Dutch Government Official Slams US Patriot Act

The Patriot Act allows the U.S. authorities including the NSA to collect and search communications data stored on servers from U.S. technology providers.

​Former Dutch Government Minister Dion Kotteman slammed the U.S. Patriot Act on Tuesday for allowing U.S. intelligence agencies including the National Security Agency (NSA) the ability to spy and collect the personal data of European citizens.

“It’s a difficult issue; The Patriot Act does of course affect the whole thing [of cloud computing]. The American government can gain access to data if there is a national security issue involved. But to be open, we can’t operate these data centers without American involvement,” he said.

Kotteman’s comments come as several European leaders are renewing calls for a ‘euro cloud,’ in which consumer data could be shared within Europe but not outside the region.

However, most internet and other telecommunication traffic flow through the U.S. and information flowing through the U.S. becomes subject to U.S. law, making it easier for U.S. intelligence agencies to control and monitor private data.

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Kotteman went on to criticize the current monopoly of U.S. technology firms over the production and distribution of internet hardware, which leaves governments powerless to prevent U.S. intelligence services from spying on data – even if it’s kept on European soil.

Despite having its own domestic internet infrastructure, the Netherlands is largely dependent on the hardware owned by U.S. corporations.

“Some of these American products have a backdoor in their machines, allowing the intelligence services to gain access to the data,” he told the audience of the Data centre and Infrastructure Summit 2015.

These accusations were confirmed by revelations from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that found that the NSA had deliberately embedded backdoors into U.S. hardware products, compromising user data.

“We can’t guarantee the American government won’t touch the data, we have to be realistic, there is a chance that they’ll touch the data that we have,” Kotteman added.

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