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US understands people's need for privacy, says Kerry

Jun 13, 2013 10:09 IST

#John Kerry   #NewsTracker   #Privacy Issues   #United States   #US Spying  

Washington: US Secretary of State John Kerry has emphasised on vital balance between privacy and the protection of people, saying the three branch of the US government were working to keep Americans safe.

"I think the (British Foreign) Secretary and I both understand the very delicate but vital balance between privacy and the protection of people in our country," Kerry told reporters yesterday following his meeting with British counterpart William Hague.

"As you're hearing now more and more, the members of Congress understand that Congress passed on this, voted for it several times, and the judiciary branch of our country has reviewed this and been engaged in this," he said.

"This is a three-branch of government effort to keep America safe, and in fact, it has not read emails or looked at or listened to conversations, the exception of where a court may have made some decision which was predicated on appropriate evidence," Kerry said.

John Kerry. AFP.

John Kerry. AFP.

United States of America, he said, has been hugely protected over the course of these last years by the valiant efforts of its law enforcement community, international law enforcement efforts, the FBI, agencies, the Homeland Security, all of whom have coordinated in remarkable ways to prevent some very terrible events from taking place.

"I think they have done so in a remarkable balance of the values of our nation with respect to privacy, freedom, and the Constitution. And I think over time, this will withstand scrutiny and people will understand that," Kerry asserted. Responding to questions, Hague said the ongoing debate on cyber spying has not been the focus of their discussions today.

"We've noted recent controversies. The intelligence sharing relationship between the UK and the US is unique in the world. It is the strongest in the world. And it contributes massively to the national security of both countries," he said.

"I think that's something that the citizens of our countries should have confidence in, and in particular have confidence in that relationship is based on a framework of law in both countries, law that is vigorously upheld. So I repeat what I said in the House of Commons on Monday about the importance of that.

"And it's a relationship we must never endanger, because it has saved many lives over recent decades in countering terrorism and in contributing to the security of all our citizens," Hague said. The United States and Britain, he said, are very close partners on cyber security, on intelligence sharing.

"I think that should give some level of assurance to the citizens of our countries. I pointed out in the House of Commons on Monday the legal protections that are there. And of course, I've made very clear that any information received by the United Kingdom is subject to all the laws of the United Kingdom. And so that remains the answer. That is the situation," he said.

"But no two countries in the world work more closely to protect the privacy of their citizens than the United Kingdom and the United States. There may be threats from elsewhere, of course, and there are, from criminal networks, sometimes from other states. "It's the UK and the US that work together in trying to deal with that. So it's not the United States we should be looking at when we're worried about those things," Hague said.

PTI