Monday, July 31, 2006

SWIFT affair: European data protection agencies join forces

In the affair about US appropriation of detailed data on world financial transactions from SWIFT — the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication — after 9/11/2001 (see details in this blog entry), European data protection agencies have now decided to join forces. As the German data protection commissioner writes on his website, the so-called Article 29 group have decided to contact their respective banking organisations to find out about the extent and scope of surveillance and data transmission to the United States.

The commissioner (who is also presently the chair of the Article 29 group) points out that customers of all financial institutions have a right to know how their confidential data were being treated, for the processing of their data according to data protection rules is a fundamental right.

As a previous reaction to the SWIFT affair, on 6 July 2006 the European Parliament had adopted a resolution strongly disapproving of "any secret operations on EU territory that affect the privacy of EU citizens" and expressing its deep concern "that such operations should be taking place without the citizens of Europe and their parliamentary representation having been informed". Furthermore, the Parliament urged "the USA and its intelligence and security services to act in a spirit of good cooperation and notify their allies of any security operations they intend to carry out on EU territory".

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