Angela Merkel has used the first, agenda-setting speech of her third term in office to criticise America’s uncompromising defence of its surveillance activities.
In a speech otherwise typically short of strong emotion or rhetorical flourishes, the German chancellor found relatively strong words on NSA surveillance, two days before the US secretary of state, John Kerry, is due to visit Berlin.
“A programme in which the end justifies all means, in which everything that is technically possible is then acted out, violates trust and spreads mistrust,” she said. “In the end, it produces not more but less security.”
Merkel emphasised the need for wider access to the internet for citizens: “We want to make sure the internet retains its promise. That’s why we want to protect it”.
In outlining her government’s digital agenda, she once again described the internet as Neuland, or virgin territory, a phrase previously mocked by activists who have for some time been urging the German chancellor to make data protection a priority.