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EU's Neelie Kroes: 'Snowden gave us a wake-up call'

The European Union honcho says that the time has come to "say yes to protection but no to protectionism."

Edward Snowden The Guardian/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission, reflected on Edward Snowden's leaks on Monday at the CeBit Global Conference, saying that the world should learn from them.

"Snowden gave us a wake-up call," she said, according to Recode. "Let's not snooze through it."

Kroes spent her time at CeBit discussing the reality that cyberwarfare and spying are a part of the digital world. She cautioned, however, that it's time for the world to determine how to find a proper balance between data-gathering and protecting privacy.

"Say yes to protection but no to protectionism," Kroes reportedly said.

Snowden's leaks unleashed a firestorm of controversy across the world after it was revealed that the US has apparently been engaging in far-reaching digital espionage. Some countries around the world have condemned the practices, and privacy advocates have taken issue with them. At the same time, the leaks have shed light on privacy and what can be done to limit government oversight.

For her part, Kroes didn't offer any solutions, but did say that "building walls is no answer to our problem."