German Chancellor Merkel urges better data protection rules

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) during her interview with German public broadcaster ARD
Image caption Chancellor Merkel made her comments during her annual summer interview with Germany's public broadcaster

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed to push for tougher European laws to protect personal information on the internet.

In a TV interview with the public broadcaster ARD, she said Germany wanted internet companies "to tell us in Europe who they are giving data to".

Her comments follow revelations about a US spying operation that collects users' data from internet companies.

Mrs Merkel also said she expected the US to abide by German law.

Tensions have been running high between the two countries following reports that the US has been eavesdropping on EU and German officials.

"I expect a clear commitment from the US government that in future they will stick to German law," she said.

'Strict position'

The BBC's Stephen Evans in Berlin says the chancellor is under pressure to disclose how much her government knew about the activities of the American National Security Agency (NSA), and to ensure that Germans' closely-guarded privacy is not compromised.

In her Sunday evening interview, she pledged that her government would take a "very strict position" in ongoing talks on European Union-wide data rules.

She noted that the different systems in place across the EU make it difficult to control who has access to internet users' data:.

"We have a great data protection law. But if Facebook is registered in Ireland, then Irish law is valid, and therefore we need unified European rules," she said.

Chancellor Merkel sent her interior minister to Washington last week to meet Attorney General Eric Holder and Vice President Joe Biden to to find out how much spying there has been and on whom.

The opposition has accused her government of failing to get answers from its allies in the US.