10 February 2010
See now FAQ on Swift also in French, German, Italian and Finnish
After the Civil Liberties committee in the European Parliament (EP) rejected on 5 February 2010 the interim nine-month SWIFT deal between the EU and US, now it will be up to the plenary of the EP to confirm the decision on 11 February 2010.
The interim controversial deal which provisionally came in force on 1 February was negotiated to order to provide US with a legal background, following new architechture of SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) which does not longer mirror EU transactions in the United States since 1 January. However, the deal needs EP’s approval to become legally binding. Under the new Lisbon Treaty, which came into force in December, EP obtained extended legislative powers and has to approve any new European law.
The main argument of the EP Civil Liberties committee to scrap the deal is the lack of proper data privacy safeguards. The opponents of the agreement also emphasized that by rejecting the interim deal now would give the EU the upper hand for the final agreement, as only 60-70% of the Parliament’s recommendations on data protection have been considered in the present text.
However, the US officials are pressing EU for a final agreement on bank data access. On 6 February, during the Munich security conference, US national security advisor James Jones restated the need for EP to allow American investigators to access EU banking data in order to trace terrorism funding.
US foreign policy chief Hillary Clinton had phone conversations with EP President Jerzy Buzek, and Catherine Ashton, her EU counterpart and, together with US treasury secretary Timothy Geithner, wrote a letter to Buzek in which they expressed the hope that the EP vote would be positive for the agreement.
EDRi has also explained in an FAQ on SWIFT sent to some MEPs that the current interim framework does not meet EU data protection and privacy standards and that “in effect, the agreement would violate established EU and national law in this field, including the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.”
EDRi is also pointing on the fact that a lot of data will in fact be shared with the US because of the technical set-up of SWIFT. Thus the company can not limit data searches to specific individuals. “In effect, it will have to (and has in the past) transfer data about all transactions from a certain country on a certain date. There have been reports that the U.S. Treasury has received up to 25% of all SWIFT transactions. This is beyond any proportionality and also puts the EU at risk of wide-scale economic espionage.”
The debate on this topic will take place today, 10 February 2010 at 15 00 CET and can be followed live on the European Parliament website. The vote will follow on 11 February 2010 at 12 00 CET.
EDRi makes a public call to all EU citizens interested in privacy issues to call their MEPs before Thursday, 11 February 2010 to tell them to vote against the SWIFT treaty.
EDRi public letter to MEPs – FAQ – Why should the “SWIFT” Interim Agreement be rejected by the Parliament? (9.02.2010)
Live Coverage of the SWIFT debates in the European Parliament – 10.02.2010 starting with 15:00 CET
US links EU security partnership to bank data deal (8.02.2010)
Clinton calls parliament chief over bank data deal (4.02.2010)
Euro MPs shun bank data deal with US (5.02.2010)
EU lawmakers slam bank data deal with US (1.02.2010)
EDRi-gram: Bank data deal under heavy fire from EU Parliamentarians (27.01.2010)