Furor rises over Obama administration surveillance programs

For the past weak, the uproar over the U.S. government's vast surveillance network, which includes a controversial program known as PRISM, which can scoop up data on any foreign internet source entering U.S. cyberspace, has been limited to domestic critics. Now, according to Reuters, officials in Germany, including members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's government, are reportedly furious regarding allegations that the Obama administration may have been collecting information on German citizens.

This latest political headache comes just weeks before President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Berlin and hold talks with Merkel. Even top-level ministers in the German coalition government are speaking out against what they call a return to Soviet-era surveillance practices.

"The more a society monitors, controls and observes its citizens, the less free it is," Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger wrote in an op-ed published by Der Spiegel, a German-language news publication. "The suspicion of excessive surveillance of communication is so alarming that it cannot be ignored. For that reason, openness and clarification by the U.S. administration itself is paramount at this point. All facts must be put on the table."

Rising tension between the United States and the European Union could not come at a worse time, considering the fragile state of both the global financial system and the world economy. Suspicion that one side has been secretly monitoring the other, regardless of purpose, could imperil much-needed reforms that could bring normalcy back to markets.

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