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European Parliamentarians raise concerns about Swift data sharing

08 January 2015  |  7198 views  |  0 European flags

Members of the European Parliament are to debate Europol's refusal to divulge information about US access to Swift international payments data amid concerns that the agreement is trampling over the data protection rights of EU consumers.

In October 2013, European MEPs voted in favour of suspending the EU/US bank data sharing deal in response to the US National Security Agency's alleged tapping of messages transmitted over the Swift banking network.

The motion was dismissed by the European executive, which insisted that there was no evidence to support the claims, and that the agreement was an effective tool in tracking terrorist financing.

It is currently Europol's responsibility to verify if requests by the US are "proportionate and necessary". At the same time Europol’s Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) monitors whether in doing this, the organisation respects the EU's requirements for protecting personal data.

In 2013 an MEP submitted a complaint to the European ombudsman, alleging that Europol wrongly refused public access to the annual JSB audit report. However, as the ombudsman was not allowed to inspect it, the inquiry had to be closed. Europol said that disclosure was not possible as the US refused to give the necessary consent.

On Thursday, MEPs will discuss the case, including concerns that "an agreement with a foreign country could affect democratic control of measures and decisions taken by EU institutions and bodies".

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