Former NSA Counsel: Europeans Far More Likely To Be Spied on by Their Governments Than Americans



After the extent of NSA surveillance was revealed by Edward Snowden's leaks many Europeans were outraged.

However, while Europeans may be upset about American surveillance Stewart Baker, who used to be the NSA's general counsel, said earlier this month that Europeans are far more likely than Americans to be spied on by their own governments.

From NPR:

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."

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  1. I’m less worked up about the NSA spying on Europeans. Why? Because, besides the occasional droning, there’s not much the American government can do directly to our fellow spyees in other countries.

    The outrage by European leaders was always obviously for the benefit of their constituents, and probably for leverage.

  2. Hey, cut Obama some slack here. It takes time to remodel our society in the image of Europe.

  3. “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,”

    I feel so much better now!

  4. So this means the privacy laws being ignored in the U.S. are stricter than the ones being ignored in Europe?

  5. Yes.

    That is why we left, declared independence and wrote a constitution that protects us from the kind of shit that happens in Europe.

    Ridiculous argument. Fuck off and die in a fire.

    1. Yeah, Americans under George III were less taxed and oppressed than the average Englishman, Frenchman, or Turk. We rebelled anyway because we thought King George was moving in the *direction* of Europe. Best to nip that sort of thing in the bud. That attitude is the *reason* US oppression was less than Europe’s. If we sat back and said “let’s see where old Georgie is going with this,” we would probably have been reduced to European standards quickly enough.

      1. Hell, they were being taxed less than we are today.

      2. We have Canada to show us how that might have gone. They are certainly closer to European style control in many ways, but the US seems determined to catch up.

    2. Fuck off and die in a fire.

      This cannot be repeated enough.

      1. I can understand why someone would be likely to die in a fire, but why is a fire a likely circumstance in which to fuck off?

    3. But, Francisco, that was so long ago. Times have changed.

      Why do you hate freedom?

      1. The ultimate freedom is to have the state make all your decisions for you.

        1. I think I’ve just ruined my own day. Your response made me think of all those dipshits that would respond: “What about freedom from hunger and want dude?”

          My head wants to explode from rage just considering it.

        2. Slavery IS Freedom.

          1. Freedom from fear of being free.

    4. Where do you see an argument? I just see someone laying out facts. Such figures could be useful if you’re deciding where to locate.

  6. “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.”

    So if millions of Americans are under surveillance, does that mean that hundreds of millions of Italians are under surveillance? What does this even mean?

    1. That a larger proportion of the population of those countries is under surveillance. Not too hard to figure out.

      1. Not unless you actually think about it.

        If 1.5% of the US has “been surveilled” (which sounds like a low estimate, depending on how you define it) does that mean 150% of Italy has been surveilled?

  7. These NSA fucks sound like democrats when they are trying to make excuses for why they fuck people over. “But the republicans do it too, and Boosh did it the worst!!!1!eleventy!!”


  8. If you read any of Stewart Baker’s posts on The Volokh Conspiracy you learn that he’s actually an apologist for the surveillance state. His book ‘Skating on Stilts’, which I made the mistake of buying, is all about how we missed stopping 9/11 because we had too many surveillance safeguards in place. And, besides, !terrorists!! And woe is us. Etc.

    1. Yeah I came here to bash Baker too. I don’t know why Volokh et al let him disgrace their blog.

  9. You know what other European government spied on its people?

    1. China?

      1. China’s not in Europe.

        1. Really?


  11. We’re slightly freer than Europe.

    That just makes me feel so much better.

  12. First of all, since they have been caught lying (and have a policy of secrecy at all costs) I don’t consider the NSA a reliable source of information about surveillance in the U.S.

    Secondly, I’ve never been impressed by the argument that I should be happy because someone somewhere has it worse than me. I really don’t give a shit that Europe spies on its citizens more than the U.S.

    I suspect a more likely case is that the U.S. with a defense budget that is about equal to the rest of the world combined, collects the communications of everyone on the planet and then distributes portions to other friendly governments who don’t have the power, money, or technical capability to collect the information on their own populations for themselves.

    Of course, that’s just me. I’m paranoid, right?

    1. Why are some of you reading this as an argument you should be happy? I just look at it as a customer comparison for people who are looking for places to live. Like info on cost of living, etc.

  13. What also intrigues me is what accounts for these differences. Why are some places far more suspicious than others? Is it a societal trend that’s developed over generations, or something recent? Is it a broadly shared suspicion, or is it an intense suspicion by a few who have managed to work their way into gov’t to satisfy it?

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