The U.S. National Security Agency’s mass surveillance is a trade barrier for European Internet companies trying to provide services in the United States, a top EU official said on Monday.

U.S. citizens are deterred from using European e-mail providers because they do not get the same protection as they would by using U.S. providers, said Paul Nemitz, a director in the European Commission’s justice department.

“The law … which empowers the NSA to basically grab everything which comes from outside the United States, is a real trade barrier to a European digital company to provide services to Americans inside America,” Nemitz, who is overseeing an overhaul of the EU’s 20-year-old data protection rules, said at a conference on data protection in Paris.

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