EU Digital Commissioner Vows To Protect European Citizens from PRISM

Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission and the Commissioner for Europe’s Digital Agenda has vowed to protect EU citizens from privacy invasion by outside entities like the PRISM monitoring program run by the NSA. Speaking to TechCrunch TV (interview above) at Founders Forum, an annual meeting of global entrepreneurs, Kroes said “We need to protect our people.” She said the EU needed to be “clear and transparent over data protection and that the emergence of the existence of PRISM was a “big wake up call” for the privacy of EU citizens. “We don’t want to be dependent on the US or China,” she said.

She said the was an “opportunity for the EU to take the lead” over the issue. Indeed, she went further, saying there would now be business opportunities for EU companies in the realm of data protection.

Kroes was speaking ahead of her initiative to receive a “Startup Manifesto” put together by some of Europe’s leading entrepreneurs.

The so-called “Startup Europe Leaders Club” is designed to provide guidance to the Commission on what needs to be done to strengthen the environment for web entrepreneurs to start in Europe and stay in Europe. It consists of founders including Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon of Spotify, Kaj Hed of Rovio and Niklas Zennström of Atomico, among others.

The Manifesto calls for a number of pan-EU initiatives including the creation of an EU start-up visa; getting every EU country to appoint a chief digital officer; encouraging people to start businesses WHILE they are studying; teaching entrepreneurship from a young age; and making is easier to hire and fire employees – something that remains much tougher in Europe than the US.