EU says Obama must follow spying pledges with action

BRUSSELS (AFP) - The European Union said Friday Barack Obama's commitment to reform phone data collection was a step in the right direction, but called on the US president to enshrine the pledge in law.

Mr Obama on Friday curtailed the reach of massive US National Security Agency phone surveillance sweeps, but argued that bulk data collection must go on to protect America from terrorists.

In a speech intended to quell the furore over surveillance programmes leaked by Edward Snowden, Mr Obama said spy taps on friendly world leaders would be halted, while foreigners caught in US data mining would be given new protections.

"I am encouraged to see that non-US citizens stand to benefit from spying safeguards," said EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding.

"I agree with President Obama: 'More work will be needed in future'. I look forward to seeing these commitments followed by legislative action." Mr Snowdon's revelations of American mass surveillance of global online and phone data in cooperation with Britain's GCHQ service sparked an international outcry.

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel was particularly angered after it emerged that the NSA had long monitored her mobile phone.

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