EU Parliament to vote on USA bank data deal 7 replies

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Admiral Donutz Advanced Member

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#1 11 years ago

As you probably know the US has asked the European Parliament to accept a deal that will enable the US to view the banking details of EU based accounts in order to fight crime (terrorism). The EU is leaning towards declining this deal over privacy concerns, and the US (Clinton) is urging the EU to accept it over safety/crime fighting concerns.

Edit: The Dutch source I used implies that the US doesn't have such an ability now (atleast makes no mention of it), but checking a British source it implies that they currently can but that the EU parliament is considering not to extend the current threaty that covers this subject.I guess this might be because the short Dutch article made no mention as there is indeed an agreement but it lacks a legal basis and explaining this would have made the article too long for this online newspage/site.

Spoiler: Show

Euro MPs shun bank data deal with US

A key committee of Euro MPs has moved to block the renewal of an agreement which allows US anti-terror officials to access Europeans' bank data. The European Parliament's civil liberties committee recommended that the full parliament reject the interim nine-month deal between the EU and US.

MEPs said the deal negotiated by EU governments provided insufficient privacy safeguards.

The US can access the Swift money transfer system, based in Brussels. The European Parliament plans to vote on the EU-US data agreement next Thursday.

The parliament's press service says that if MEPs block it, they will be making use of a new power under the Lisbon Treaty to veto international agreements.

The treaty for the first time gives MEPs real power to shape EU legislation in the area of justice and home affairs.

The US started accessing Swift data after the 11 September 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington. But the fact that the US was secretly accessing such data did not come to light until 2006.

The Greens' home affairs expert, Jan Philipp Albrecht MEP, said that in backing the new deal the European Commission and EU governments had "not respected the fundamental criticism about the lack of sufficient protections with regard to privacy and the rule of law".

The leader of the Socialist group, Martin Schulz MEP, said: "We want a new and better deal with proper safeguards for people's privacy." Tracking the funding of terror groups globally has been a priority for Washington since the 2001 attacks.

Swift handles millions of transactions daily between banks and other financial institutions worldwide. It holds the data of some 8,000 banks and operates in 200 countries.

BBC News - Euro MPs shun bank data deal with US

Regardless, I myself wouldn't accept this bill/threaty both due to privacy concerns and giving the US the middlefinger for accessing bank data earlier in secret (illegally):

BBC article(...)The US started accessing Swift data after the 11 September 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington. But the fact that the US was secretly accessing such data did not come to light until 2006. (...)

Edit2: This third source matches the short Dutch source more closely but indeed does mention the "9 month agreement" :

Spoiler: Show

Clinton presses European Parliament to back terror data deal

09 February 2010, 00:30 CET (STRASBOURG) - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged the European Parliament not to block an EU-US deal on the transfer of banking data which Washington says is key to the fight against terrorism. Euro members of parliament, concerned about protecting European citizens' personal data, are threatening to veto an interim deal when they vote on it Thursday.

European governments have already endorsed the nine-month agreement permitting US justice authorities to data from the interbank transfer service SWIFT, but the deal needs EU parliamentary backing to have legal weight.

The parliament's primary concern is that personal information, possibly including data from electronic bank payments, could be transferred to US authorities and handed on to other governments and agencies. A longer-term agreement must be negotiated, and the assembly fears the interim deal may set dangerous precedents and tie EU hands in future negotiations.

However, Clinton in a letter to EU parliament president Jerzy Buzek stressed that The Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (FTTP) agreement "is important to our common efforts to prevent terrorism." Clinton's joint letter with her Treasury colleague Timothy Geithner expressed "our sincere hope" that the European Parliament will consent to the interim agreement "which provides narrowly targeted and valuable data, fully protects individual data privacy and is subject to multiple layers of review and oversight."

The letter, seen by AFP, piles the pressure on from Washington after US Ambassador to the European Union William Kennard warned in a separate missive last week that Washington may stop working with EU institutions on terrorist data exchange if the deal is blocked and work instead with European capitals directly.

Clinton's message was a little more conciliatory, stressing that "any future negotiation with the EU on the FTTP must be conducted in a manner that enables the parliament to be able to make an informed decision on whether to grant consent."

The letter also voiced confidence that the "parliament's view will be heard, considered, and responded to by the (EU) Commission, Council and the United States," during negotiations on the successor agreement once the interim deal is in place.

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), based near Brussels, deals with trillions of dollars in global transactions daily between nearly 8,000 financial institutions in 200-plus countries.

In 2006, SWIFT admitted that it had provided US authorities with some personal data in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks for the purpose of fighting extremists but insisted it had done its utmost to protect privacy.

A previous agreement no longer applies and the flow of data has been suspended since January 1.

US officials say the information is only subpoenaed once a month so it is only know that an intelligence gap is appearing.

A US official said that since the system was put in place in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, Washington had handed European authorities some 1,500 reports built from information gleaned from the data exchange system.

The European Union may not be always be aware of that as the source of the information is not routinely included, for security reasons, he said. Text and Picture Copyright 2010 AFP. All other Copyright 2010 EUbusiness Ltd. All rights reserved. This material is intended solely for personal use. Any other reproduction, publication or redistribution of this material without the written agreement of the copyright owner is strictly forbidden and any breach of copyright will be considered actionable.

Clinton presses European Parliament to back terror data deal — EU Business News - EUbusiness.com

I wonder how eager the US would be to share it's banking details with the EU?

Edit2: A bonus link, explaining which partys are against or in favour and why plus some more background info:

Spoiler: Show

Clinton calls parliament chief over bank data deal

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has called EU parliament chief Jerzy Buzek to voice concern over a vote due next Thursday in which MEPs could scrap a deal allowing American investigators to track down terrorist funding via European bank transactions.

Ms Clinton's late-night phonecall to Mr Buzek comes on top of other efforts by the US administration to try and convince EU lawmakers not to reject the agreement.

On Wednesday, US ambassador to Brussels William E. Kennard went to the European Parliament and held talks with several political group leaders and MEPs dealing with justice and home affairs.

The day before, Stuart Levey, the under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, wrote an op-ed in Europolitics warning against the "tragic mistake" of scrapping the deal.

The interim deal, which came into force provisionally on 1 February but still requires the European Parliament's approval to be legally binding, allows US authorities to tap into intra-European bank transactions as part of anti-terrorist investigations.

MEPs were infuriated when EU ministers agreed the interim deal with the US on 30 November last year, just a day before the bloc's new rulebook, the Lisbon Treaty, came into force. The treaty give euro-deputies a greater say over data protection issues.

The controversial deal was negotiated to help the US out of a legal hole, following the relocation of the US database of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift) to the Netherlands on 1 January. It will only be in force until the end of September, allowing the negotiation of a full agreement, together with the EU parliament, in the intervening time.

A majority against the deal seemed to be forming on Wednesday, when the second-largest group – the Socialists and Democrats – joined forces with the Liberals, Greens and far left to scrap the agreement. The parliament's civil rights, justice and home affairs committee on Thursday (4 February) recommended that the plenary rejects the agreement. But parliament officials point out that this may be a "warning shot", while the final vote next week could still be positive.

The main argument of opponents to the deal was that the Parliament was sidelined in negotiations with the US authorities and the privacy guarantees for EU citizens were not satisfactory. They also pointed out that scrapping the interim deal now would give the EU a bigger leverage for the final agreement, as currently only 60-70% of the parliament's recommendations on data protection have been taken into account. Accepting this threshold now would give the Americans a reason not to make more concessions in the final agreement, they argue.

But supporters of the deal, especially within the parliament's biggest group – the center-right European People's Party – point to the security gap if US authorities were to no longer receive Swift data until a final agreement is reached. In Brussels' diplomatic circles, the parliament's muscle flexing is seen with increased concern. "If it's voted down, the US will be extremely frustrated. It's not only about the security of Americans, it's also about the security of European citizens. The data that they send back to us is very useful in preventing terrorist attacks," one EU diplomat told this website.

Another one even called the vote a "test case for the credibility of the parliament" and warned against "playing politics with the security of our citizens." On the diplomatic side, the rebuff would add up to increasingly cooling relations between the EU and US after a highly enthusiastic start last year upon the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Earlier this week, the Spanish EU presidency had to cancel a planned EU-US summit after being notified that Mr Obama would not attend the meeting in Madrid.

Swift in standby mode Meanwhile, at Swift, company officials are waiting for the parliament's final say on the interim deal. "We have a situation where there is an agreement, but no legal basis on which Swift can be compelled to give information to US authorities," Euan Sellar, the company's spokesman told this website.

He added that there was no request yet from the US side to send any information, after the company reconfigured its data structure on 1 January. "For us it's a good agreement, it enables us to ensure that data of our customers is protected, we know who gets the data and how it's used," Mr Sellar added.

Roughly 60 percent of the data processed by Swift is European, the rest is American and Asian. The company records international transactions worth trillions of dollars daily, between nearly 8,000 financial institutions in over 200 countries.

http://euobserver.com/9/29411n Note: The "Liberals" mentioned in the article are EU liberals, following the ideology of liberalism. These would eb your US Libertarians. So the Socialists, Democrats, Greens, and other left leaning parties plus the liberals (centrist to right leaning) are said to oppose this agreement.




Junk angel

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#2 11 years ago

So this deal would be one way or two way? That's pretty crucial in my opinion. And I think a number of the MEPs will go from this pretext as well.




Admiral Donutz Advanced Member

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#3 11 years ago
Junk angel;5236118So this deal would be one way or two way? That's pretty crucial in my opinion. And I think a number of the MEPs will go from this pretext as well.

As far as I understood from an article in my local newspaper earlier this week this agreement only covers the permission of US authorities accessing EU bank account details such as that of SWIFT and a few others (were SWIFT had it's data accessed in the past already because they had servers on US soil and any data passing through it was accessable to US authorities). One of the articles also mentions that US officials say that this practise already has helped them in stopping terrorism (some suspects were arrested in the UK in late 2009).

The one way street aspect of this doesn't appeal to me at all. But even if the information was shared between the EU and US I'd have privacy concerns. I'd like to know how they would ensure only highly suspicous data would be accessable for starters. So I'd decline this deal.




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#4 11 years ago

This is the first i have heard of this and to be honest it worries me.

If i understand this correctly the US goverment want access to EU banking accounts to stop (or prevent) terrorism,While at the same time not allowing the EU to access US banking accounts which would leave the US solely in control, basicly leaving the EU high and drying (maybe) giving them information the US wants to give them if they wish.

The fact that Swift had its data accessed by the US already would make me want it rejected as soon as possible because of the type of data which is being accessed,Don't the people have there say? What if this data was to be 'leaked' to the wrong people because of carelessness?.

Have i gotten this wrong or am i missing the point? Goverments can't be reliable these days :)




Admiral Donutz Advanced Member

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#5 11 years ago
Ninja_Panda;5236234If i understand this correctly the US goverment want access to EU banking accounts to stop (or prevent) terrorism,While at the same time not allowing the EU to access US banking accounts which would leave the US solely in control, basicly leaving the EU high and drying (maybe) giving them information the US wants to give them if they wish.

The last source had a few links to related articles, one of which reads:

(...) agreement that was to enable the continued transfer of EU citizens' banking data to US investigators. (...) The controversial deal was negotiated to help the US out of a legal hole, following the relocation of the US database of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift) to the Netherlands

(...)

Ongoing controversy The Swift issue has been an ongoing controversy for several years, with news that the US Department of the Treasury was secretly surveilling banking transactions data, including information on EU citizens, first hitting the headlines in 2006. Names, addresses and national identification numbers are among the sensitive data screened under the procedure designed to fight terrorism. However, the agreement makes no provision for European investigators to access similar data on US transactions. (...)

See: EUobserver / MEPs call for delay on US bank data deal

(...)The data transferred under the agreement includes name, address, national identification number and other personal data related to financial messages. European investigators, however, have no reciprocal means of obtaining similar data on US transactions.

"That would have to be negotiated next year as part of the final agreement, together with the European Parliament," one EU official said. The current interim deal only avoids a legal gap for the US side, as the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift) is relocating its database from US soil to Switzerland by the end of the year. The interim agreement will come into force on 1 February and last for nine months, but can still be annulled by the European Parliament, who will have to give its consent on the deal at some point in the spring. Germany had reportedly asked for an even shorter deadline, of six months, to end this arrangement.

US treasury under-secretary Stuart Levey welcomed the interim agreement and said the information provided so far under the "Terrorist finance tracking programme" had helped investigators in thwarting terrorist plots. (...)

See: http://euobserver.com/?aid=29072

Sounds to me like a very valid reaosn to be concerned about the privacy, where this data may end up, that it is a one way street and basically seems to legalize actions that so far have been commited illegally since 2001... Signing this threaty/deal as it currently stands would be an act of weakness, if not stupidity. An EU puppet bowing to the will/desire of the US. Anti terrorism precautions and all that? Sure, aslong as it is withon reason and aslong as both parties get an equal share/benefit out of it.




Admiral Donutz Advanced Member

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#6 11 years ago

Update: The EU Parliament has blocked the deal:

Spoiler: Show

European bank data ban angers US

The European Parliament has blocked a key agreement that allows the United States to monitor Europeans' bank transactions - angering Washington.

The US called the decision a "setback for EU-US counter-terror co-operation".

The vote was a rebuff to intensive US lobbying for EU help in counter-terrorism investigations.

EU governments had negotiated a nine-month deal which would have allowed the US to continue accessing the Swift money transfer system.

Top US officials - including Vice-President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner - had contacted MEPs in recent days to urge them to consider "the importance of this agreement to our mutual security", the Associated Press news agency reported.

But Euro MPs said the deal provided insufficient privacy safeguards.

Lawmakers in Strasbourg voted 378-196 against the deal, with 31 abstentions.

Secret access

The US started accessing Swift data after the 11 September 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington.

But the fact that the US was secretly accessing such data did not come to light until 2006.

Last week the Greens' home affairs expert, Jan Philipp Albrecht MEP, said that in backing the new deal the European Commission and EU governments had "not respected the fundamental criticism about the lack of sufficient protections with regard to privacy and the rule of law".

The leader of the Socialist group, Martin Schulz MEP, said: "We want a new and better deal with proper safeguards for people's privacy."

Tracking the funding of terror groups globally has been a priority for Washington since the 2001 attacks.

Swift handles millions of transactions daily between banks and other financial institutions worldwide. It holds the data of some 8,000 banks and operates in 200 countries. Story from BBC NEWS:

Source: BBC News - European Swift bank data ban angers US




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#7 11 years ago

Not a particularly surprising outcome, I'd say. When working in concert Europe has no problems standing up to the U.S., and I wouldn't doubt the deal did not work out favorably in terms of privacy controls.




Von II

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#8 11 years ago

I'd only agree if it would work in both sides, if not: Gtfo.