US given access to Europeans' bank data under deal approved by EU


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Mar 5, 2006
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MEPs in Strasbourg voted unanimously to endorse an agreement that gives the US access to bulk data from Swift, the Brussels-based cooperative that handles inter-bank financial payments.

The parliament rejected a similar agreement in February, citing concerns that personal information could be misused by US authorities.

But parliamentarians approved the new deal, with 484 in favour and 109 against.

The US insists the Swift deal is critical to fighting terrorism, as part of the US Terrorist Financing Tracking Programme (TFTP), set up in the wake of the September 2001 attacks. Senior figures, including Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, lobbied the Parliament.

In an attempt to placate concerns voiced by MEPs and lobby groups, the EU has now agreed to appoint officials to monitor US investigators' actions.

In another innovation, the EU police agency Europol will assess whether specific data requests are necessary for the fight against terrorism.

The EU says the deal now "fully" addresses privacy and data protection concerns.

Cecilia Malmstrom, the EU commissioner responsible for home affairs who negotiated the deal on behalf of the EU, said there was also a requirement that bulk data can not be sent to third countries.

She said the agreement "represented a test case for the EU-US cooperation in the Lisbon era.

"Failure to conclude this agreement could have had negative repercussions for EU-US cooperation in the security area and more broadly."

She said the new agreement would come into force in August for an initial duration of five years.

Timothy Kirkhope, leader of the British Tory MEPs, said it "sends the right signals about our resolve in fighting terrorism and our commitment to remaining a strong partner of the United States."

But the European Digital Rights said the deal was still not restrictive enough.

US given access to Europeans' bank data under deal approved by EU - Telegraph
One of my projects at work at the moment dealing with a swift implementation in the US. Speaking to our compliance team from a business point nothing will have changed. From a us security agency pov, they will still need to apply for each access which will be reviewed prior to access.