German Chancellor Angela Merkel told U.S president Barack Obama that government monitoring of internet communications should remain within appropriate limits, Reuters reported.

Barack Obama

Obama and Merkel’s joint news conference:

“I made clear that although we do see the need for gathering information, the topic of proportionality is always an important one and the free democratic order is based on people feeling safe,” Merkel said at a joint news conference with Obama.

“That’s why the question of balance and proportionality is something we will continue to discuss and where we have agreed further exchange of information between the German Interior Ministry and the authorities concerned in the United States.”

In his speech to an estimated 6,000 people at the Brandenburg Gate, Obama sought to reassure Angela Merkel that U.S. surveillance of online communication and telephone records was limited and subject to strict legal controls.

“We are not rifling through the emails of German citizens or American citizens or French citizens or anyone else,” he said. “This is a circumscribed, narrow system being aimed to protect us and our people.  The encroachment on privacy has been strictly limited.”

Defending the U.S. surveillance program, president Obama insisted that U.S. intelligence services monitored telephonic communication simply to spot a suspicious call or a call that has already been starred as a security threat. Obama clarified that intelligence services obtaine permission from federal judges before gaining access to mainstream telephonic communications.

“We have to make sure our administrative rules and protection catch up with this new cyber world.”

Obama reassured attendants that the U.S. has struck a balance between monitoring communication and protecting people’s privacy.