Cablegate: Action Request: Overcoming German Doubts On U.S
RR RUEHAG RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHRL #0128/01 0290635
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 290635Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6411
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RHEFHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC
RUCXONI/ONI WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BERLIN 000128
STATE FOR EUR, S/CT, L
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/29/2020
TAGS: PTER KTFN KCRM KHLS ECPS ECON PREL KPAO KTIA
SUBJECT: ACTION REQUEST: OVERCOMING GERMAN DOUBTS ON U.S.
DATA PRIVACY PRACTICES
REF: A. STATE 8403
B. 2009 BERLIN 1528
C. 2009 BERLIN 1377
D. 2009 BERLIN 1167
Classified By: Robert A. Pollard, Minister-Counselor for Economic Affai
rs, for Reasons 1.4 (b,d).
1. (U) This is an action request.
2. (C) Embassy Berlin strongly recommends that the Washington
Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) and data privacy
experts currently scheduled to visit Brussels next week also
with German officials. Germany is critical to the debate on
data protection issues within the EU and we need to engage
German government interlocutors, parliamentarians and opinion
makers. The exaggerated data privacy views of the current
minority governing partner, the Free Democratic Party (FDP),
have contributed to a domestic discussion that distorts U.S.
policy and is negatively-influencing the European debate.
Embassy believes we will be most successful if we address
German data privacy concerns in a comprehensive way,
including various information sharing programs such as
HSPD-6, TFTP, and Passenger Name Records.
3. (C) Germany has become a difficult partner with regards to
security-related information sharing initiatives following
the September 27 national elections, which brought the FDP
into the governing coalition. The FDP sees themselves as
defenders of citizens' privacy rights and these views have
led the FDP to oppose many of Germany's post-9/11
counterterrorism legislative proposals (see reftels). At
times, the FDP's fixation on data privacy and protection
issues looks to have come at the expense of the party forming
responsible views on counterterrorism policy.
4. (C) Over the past months, Ambassador Murphy, the DCM, and
other embassy staff have engaged German government
interlocutors, influential parliamentarians and law
enforcement officials to stress the importance of
security-related information sharing initiatives such as
TFTP. However, in these meetings, our German counterparts
consistently raise concerns about U.S. data protection
measures and policy. Furthermore, the German views often
distort and misrepresent U.S. policy. For example, current
Federal Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger
(FDP) - who has considerable influence - is particularly
outspoken and does not appear to have (or perhaps want) an
informed view of USG data privacy practices. It is critical
that we aggressively and vocally counter these
misrepresentations of U.S. policy.
5. (C) Embassy staff raised the prospect of an inter-agency
experts group visiting Berlin with xxxxx.
xxxxx who is a strong supporter of close U.S.-German
counterterrorism cooperation and information sharing,
welcomed the proposal and believed that skeptics of U.S.
policy in other ministries and Bundestag parliamentarians
would benefit from a comprehensive and factual discussion of
the details of U.S. data protection policy.
6. (C) In addition to our request that the Treasury visitors
to Brussels add a Berlin-stop, we strongly recommend that an
inter-agency data privacy experts delegation visit Berlin to
officials. The FDP returned to power after a ten-year foray
in the opposition and key leaders lack experience in the
practical matters of tackling real-world security issues in
the Internet age. In our meetings we have made the point
that countering terrorism in a globalized world, where
terrorists and their supporters use open borders and
information technology to quickly move people and financing,
requires robust international data sharing. We need to also
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demonstrate that the U.S. has strong data privacy measures in
place so that robust data sharing comes with robust data