lördag, juni 26, 2010

The European Parliament may vote on the SWIFT agreement already 7 July 2010

According to a pressrelease dated 24 June 2010 the European Parliament may vote on the SWIFT-agreement on 7 July 2010. The agreement involves an obligation for the banking organisation SWIFT to transfer banking data to the USA in bulk, which includes banking data of ordinary, law-abiding citizens. The data will be stored for five years and processed within the U.S. Terrorism Finance Tracking Program (TFTP).

It appears as some of the conditions of the European Parliament to accept the agreement in the long term may worsen, not improve, the protection of banking data. Read the following section of the press release.

Thursday's discussion focused on how to put in place, on European soil, a system equivalent to the US Terrorism Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) so as avoid transferring data "in bulk" across the Atlantic. In a resolution passed on 5 May, the European Parliament had made the setting up of such a system a condition for approving the SWIFT agreement.
In other words, the European Parliament has been succesful in pushing through a demand for a "EU-TFTP" where European state authorities would establish a database which would include banking data of law-abiding citizens in order to avoid transfer of the Atlantic. The logic of establishing a European counterpart to something that is held to be inappropriate when done in the U.S. is difficult to understand. The EU should instead examine a third alternative where European as well as American authorities may issue narrow requests for banking data to SWIFT. Banking data of ordinary, law-abiding citizens should not on a mass scale be transferred to and stored by state authorties.

The third alternative is not even being considered. The office of EU commissioner Cecilia Malmström has explained in the comments to her blog (translation from Swedish).

SWIFT does not have the capacity to deal with narrow requests. Instead of building such capacity within the private company SWIFT, the European Commission will examine the possibility to build such capacity managed by the EU, in accordance with the demands of the European Parliament.

Read more in the EUobserver and Spiegelonline.

Olof B I HAX I Jens O

4 kommentarer:

Olof Bjarnason sa...

When talking about SWIFT with a highly skilled mathematically inclined friend, what I seem to be lacking is a *practical* reason why this kind of surveillance of international transaction is bad. He refused to listen to my principal & human rights objections - rejecting this as "emotional arguments". Also, he found such a system to be good for practical reasons like the discovery of "pengatvätt" (what's the English word for this? money laundry?). So, if you Mark, or someone else, involved in this discussion could come up with concrete, pragmatic objections to the TFPT agreement text, please share.

Mark Klamberg sa...

There are several arguments. There is the risk of abuse, state authorities should not have access to more information that is needed and the assumption on a moral basis should be that privat information should remain private.

You do not need to trasnfer bank data in bulk to detect money laundering, the EU already has the directive on money laundering where financial institutions have an obligation to stora data for five years. That is enough.

Olof Bjarnason sa...

Ah, yes there are already methods to circumvent money laundering. So that is one argument - why add another, more invasive method when there are mechanisms to catch this problem already? Waste of money.

About the direct arguments against this kind of surveillence - I guess what I am looking for is some concrete example of how this information can be abused, and by whom.

Olof Bjarnason sa...

I guess good examples would come from history, like DDR or Soviet. I'll check wikipedia.