US Ambassador to Spain, James Costos, was summoned [press release] by the Spanish Foreign Ministry [official website] Monday to discuss recent reports that the US National Security Agency (NSA) [official website] spied on more than 60 million phone calls made in Spain in the span of December 2012 to January 2013. The original report [El Mundo report, Spanish] was put out by Spanish newspaper El Mundo [media website, Spanish] and cites to documents it claims to have exclusive access to from those released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden [JURIST news archive]. While the documents reportedly indicate the content of the calls were not recorded, they show information about the location and duration were monitored. Spanish authorities expressed their concern over the alleged actions, calling them "inappropriate and unacceptable." Costos has said he will report back to his superiors and work to "clear up any misunderstandings that might have arisen over this affair."
The revelations surrounding NSA surveillance programs such as this one and PRISM [JURIST backgrounder] have sparked worldwide debate and controversy. According to a report released [JURIST report] last week, the NSA was directly involved in a targeted killing program. Another report that same week showed [JURIST report] the NSA was collecting instant messages and e-mail contact lists. US Senators announced new legislation [JURIST report] last month in a bipartisan effort to reform surveillance laws. Earlier that month the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] urged the Obama administration [JURIST report] to curb the FBI's surveillance powers despite the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court's [official website] release of a previously classified opinion justifying [JURIST report] the need for the NSA's surveillance program. In August the Council of Europe [official website] expressed concern [JURIST report] over the UK reaction to the exposure of the US surveillance program. In June the ACLU in conjunction with the New York Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] filed suit [JURIST report] against the NSA challenging its recently revealed phone data collection.