The European Parliament committee on civil liberties today in Brussels opened its inquiry on PRISM, the clandestine mass electronic surveillance data mining programme known to have been operated by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) since 2007. 

The enquiry is led by S&D Claude Moraes MEP and is expected to reach a conclusion by the end of this year. 

Taking the floor during the first hearing, Claude Moraes said:

 "Data Protection is a fundamental right for EU citizens and one which must be respected both by  EU Member State Governments , private companies  and in our relationships with third countries, in particular the U.S.   

"The evidence that we will hear over the next couple of months will make a great contribution to shed light on the exact functioning of  the various surveillance programmes in operation like PRISM in the US. 

"However, we need also to make sure to get our own house in order and concentrate our activities on  EU security agencies' activity".

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