Tuesday

24th Apr 2018

EU wants answers on NSA bank spying allegations

  • Swift says it has found no evidence to suggest that the NSA infiltrated their network (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

The EU does not rule out suspending the terrorist financial tracking programme (TFTP) with the Americans following press reports that the US intelligence agency has direct access to Swift, the global interbank transfer network database.

European Commissioner for home affairs Cecilia Malmstrom told a European Parliament civil liberties committee on Tuesday (24 September) that any suspension of the international agreement would first require an “objective and comprehensive assessment and consultations.”

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

When pressed by euro-deputies, she noted that if the press reports are true, then it could “constitute a breach of the agreement and a breach of the agreement can certainly lead to a suspension.”

The agreement was negotiated with Washington to track terrorists. It sets out rules on access, and data protection safeguards. A suspension would require a qualified majority vote among member states.

But Malmstrom’s statement was brushed off later on by high-ranking commission officials who refused to respond to MEP questions on whether the agreement should be suspended if allegations were proven true.

Commission home affairs director Reinhard Priebe, who co-chairs the EU-US working group on data protection, would only say that further consultations are required.

Malmstrom wrote a letter to US Treasury Under Secretary David Cohen on 12 September to ask for clarification on the allegations.

She requested in the letter to hold consultations, a formal step in case of a dispute, to determine if the US is holding up its side of the agreement.

Cohen replied a few days later but Malmstrom told the euro-deputies that she was not satisfied by the responses.

“We need more detailed information in order to credibly access reality and to be in a position to judge whether obligations on the US side under agreement have been breached,” she said.

She noted the consultation with the Americans would start soon.

Set up in 1973, Swift is a Belgian-based private company used by some 10,000 financial institutions in over 200 countries to facilitate the exchange of financial messages.

“Security is still, 40 years later, key to our mission and a core to our business,” said Blanche Petre, general counsel of Swift.

Petre said the company has found no evidence to back the allegations first made by Globo TV, a Brazilian television network.

“I can tell you today and I can assure you today that we have no evidence to suggest there have been any unauthorised access to our network or data,” she said.

She told the committee that their production environment has no Internet access and that Swift messages undergo multiple encryption layers.

Swift is overseen by the G-10 central banks tasked to ensure adequate safeguards are in place to protect customer data.

Feature

Hungary activists defiant after 'Soros Mercenaries' attack

Immediately after Orban's landslide victory in April, a list of so-called 'Soros mercenaries' was published by pro-government media. Those on it - mostly human rights defenders, activists and Orban critics - are now anxious but vow to continue.

Feature

'Flobert' guns - Europe's latest terror loophole

Project Safte, an international research project funded by the European Commission, has revealed a loophole in the EU firearms directive that is being exploited by criminals and possibly terrorists.

News in Brief

  1. Far-right attack migrants on Greek island
  2. Merkel defends accepting UN refugees
  3. EU commissioner plans Malta 'money laundering' inspection
  4. Survey: Half of high polluting farms receive CAP subsidies
  5. Commission will 'not shy away' from Malta killing repercussions
  6. EU Commission opens probe on Alitalia state loan
  7. Paris suspect given 20-year sentence for Brussels shoot-out
  8. Merkel and Pena Nieto praise EU-Mexico trade agreement

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  3. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  4. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  6. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  7. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  8. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  9. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  10. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  11. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight

Latest News

  1. Juncker delays air quality action due to busy agenda
  2. Spain makes bid for EU anti-pirate HQ
  3. How Russian propaganda depicts Europe - should we worry?
  4. MEPs tell Chinese ambassador of concerns on trade
  5. Greenland votes with eye on independence
  6. EU court delivers blow to anti-abortion activists
  7. Hungary activists defiant after 'Soros Mercenaries' attack
  8. European Commission proposes whistleblower protection law