The disclosure of of previously secret NSA surveillance programs has been met by outrage in Europe. The European Parliament even threatened to delay trade talks with the United States.
Yet U.S. officials have dismissed much of the complaining as hypocrisy. Before the House rejected legislation that would have limited the data the NSA can collect last week, U.S. intelligence officials argued that regulation of government surveillance programs is actually tighter in the United States than in many other countries.
Stewart Baker, formerly the NSA's general counsel, told the House Judiciary Committee this month that Europeans are more likely to be spied on by their governments than Americans are by theirs. And he had data to back that up.
"According to the Max Planck Institute, you're 100 times more likely to be surveilled by your own government if you live in the Netherlands or you live in Italy," Baker said. "You're 30 to 50 times more likely to be surveilled if you're a French or a German national than in the United States."