By Brendan Sasso - 08/29/13 08:53 PM EDT
The speech was the last for Kerry, the brother of Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryObama phones Italian leader after deadly earthquake US arms sale to Saudi Arabia under fire from lawmakers Top Republican presses Kerry for Iran 'ransom' details MORE, in his role at the department.
Many Europeans have expressed outrage about the extent of the NSA's surveillance of international phone calls and Internet traffic. Documents leaked by Edward Snowden also indicated that the U.S. has spied on European missions and embassies.
But Kerry argued that, taking into account differences in population and Internet usage, the United States collects about the same amount of information as other countries, including those in Europe.
He argued that the Obama administration is committed to protecting privacy and improving transparency of the surveillance programs.
"Privacy is deeply embedded in American values and laws and the United States is the source of many of the privacy principles that underlie modern privacy regimes around the globe," Kerry said.
He warned that cutting off the flow of data between Europe and the U.S. "would cause significant and immediate economic damage."
"Moreover, it would lead to loss of competitiveness on both sides as other economies around the world that embrace open Internet architectures and freedom to experiment with data analytics offer havens for innovators," he said. "Our economic future is at stake in our international engagement."