This Article is From Jul 02, 2013

Cyber scrutiny, not snooping says Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid of US surveillance

New Delhi: A day after Europe's furious reaction to reports that the US spied on more than 30 embassies and diplomatic missions of its allies including India, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said that America's surveillance programme of phone logs and Internet "is not snooping."

The minister said, "This is not scrutiny and access to actual messages. It is only a computer study and a computer analysis of patterns of calls."

The vast US surveillance programme of phone logs and Internet data revealed by intelligence leaker Edward Snowden have raised a furore in the United States and abroad over the balance between privacy rights and national security.

The comments by Mr Khurshid, who met US Secretary of State John Kerry in New Delhi last month, contrast with India's initial reaction when an External Affairs Ministry spokesman warned that any privacy violation would be "unacceptable".

Germany said on Monday if media reports of large-scale US spying on the European Union were confirmed, it would be unacceptable Cold War-style behaviour. France, too, said "we cannot accept this kind of behaviour between partners and allies." The disclosures could threaten negotiations on a free trade agreement.

"The Europeans are some of the closest allies that we have in the world," said President Barack Obama on Monday. "I've asked my team... to evaluate everything that's being claimed. When we have an answer, we will make sure to provide all the information that our allies want."

Mr Snowden, whose US passport has been cancelled, remains holed up at the Moscow airport where he has sought asylum from 21 countries.

He was quoted a few days ago as saying he believed that the National Security Agency in the US had conducted more than 61,000 hacking operations globally.