Wednesday, June 27, 2007

No Surprise: Once again EU compromises laws and privacy rights of citizens in face of US bully tactics and fraudulent fearmongering

EU approves US data transfer deal

Swift logo
Swift says it was obliged to obey US subpoenas
The European Union has approved a deal allowing the Swift international bank transfer network to show US investigators details of transactions.

European and Belgian watchdogs say Brussels-based Swift has been violating privacy rules since it started sharing the data after the 9/11 attacks.

The new deal says the US can only use the data to fight terrorism, and can only hold it for five years.

A senior European official will also monitor how the data is used.

Secret operation

A Belgian money transfer firm, Swift handles 11m transactions per year
US agencies subpoenaed Swift to provide transaction data to help disrupt terrorist financing
The company has more than 7,500 clients, most of them global financial institutions
It operates in 200 countries, including Burma
In November, the European Commission told Swift to stop violating EU privacy laws
The deal is expected to be rubber-stamped by ministers on Thursday, after agreement among ambassadors.

The US says it needs the information, such as customer names, account numbers and amounts transferred, to crack down on funding for to terrorist cells.

Swift says it was obliged to obey US subpoenas to share the data, and denies breaking data protection rules.

The system operated secretly until it was exposed in summer 2006.

In February, European Data Protection Superviser Peter Hustinx said Swift had "breached the trust and private lives of many millions of people".

He also accused the European Central Bank of failing to demand a halt to the data transfers.

Original article posted here.

EU, U.S. officials clinch air data deal: EU

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU and U.S. officials reached a deal on Wednesday on the transfer to the United States of private data on transatlantic air passengers for use in the fight against terrorism, an EU spokesman said.

The deal was reached in talks between European Union Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini, German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, a spokesman for Frattini said.

"Schaeuble, Frattini and Chertoff agreed," spokesman Friso Roscam Abbing said. Details of the accord must now be approved by the EU's 27 member states, who will study it on Friday.

Under an interim agreement reached in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, European airlines must pass on up to 34 items of passenger data, including address and credit card details, to be allowed to land at U.S. airports.

That deal expires at the end of July, potentially leaving airlines in a legal limbo and exposed to privacy complaints.

Roscam Abbing did not give details of the deal but another EU diplomat has said previously that under the new arrangement, data would be kept for 15 years.

During the last eight years of that 15-year period, the information will only be available for access with the permission of a designated senior U.S. Homeland Security Department official, the diplomat said.

Under the interim accord, information can be held between 3-1/2 and 11-1/2 years.

Original article posted here.

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