The US has said it will provide more information on its controversial PRISM surveillance program to the EU. In Germany, ministers have questioned Internet companies over what information they provide governments.
The European Union's Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom and Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding established the agreement Friday after meeting with US Attorney General Eric Holder in Ireland. Malmstrom confirmed the news on Twitter.
"Agreed with the US in Dublin to set up a transatlantic expert group to receive more info on PRISM and look at the safeguards," she wrote.
PRISM was revealed via a whistleblower by the Guardian and Washington Post newspapers earlier this month. According to documents allegedly leaked by ex-CIA employee Edward Snowden, the program gives the US government direct access to the servers of major Internet companies like Facebook, Google and Apple.
European officials have been voicing their concern that PRISM has been used to monitor EU citizens, a potential violation of the 27-member bloc's data protection rules.
Internet companies questioned
In Berlin on Friday, German ministers questioned leading Internet companies in a meeting over how the US government tracks data using PRISM. Representatives from Microsoft and Google said they didn't have any information on the program, while Facebook provided a written reply to the questions. Apple did not participate in the meeting.
German officials have been pushing the US for more information about PRISM, and a separate program also allegedly revealed by Snowden that collects the phone records of millions of Americans.
Google said in a statement after the meeting Friday that it does not allow governments access to its systems and provides data "only in accordance with the law."
Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she plans to raise the issue with President Barack Obama during his visit to Germany next week.
dr/ccp (AP, dpa, AFP)