Thursday

27th Jul 2017

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 and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

EU Commission unmoved by Polish president's veto

Andrzej Duda decided to veto two of the controversial draft laws, which would put the judiciary under political control, but the EU executive is awaiting details before deciding on whether to launch legal probes on Wednesday.

News in Brief

  1. Werner Hoyer re-appointed as EU investment bank chief
  2. Spanish PM denies knowledge of party corruption
  3. France 'routinely' abuses migrants, says NGO
  4. Swedish government rocked by data scandal
  5. Member states relocate 3,000 migrants in June
  6. Top EU jurist says Malta's finch-trapping against EU law
  7. EU judges rule to keep Hamas funds frozen
  8. EU court rejects passenger data deal with Canada

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  2. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  3. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  5. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  6. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  7. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  9. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  10. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  11. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  12. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Ep. 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug

Latest News

  1. Corbyn re-opens Labour's single market wound
  2. Visegrad lobby makes food quality an EU issue
  3. EU court could dismiss national borders in cyberspace
  4. Confusion swirls around Macron's Libya 'hotspots'
  5. Insults fly after EU ultimatum to Poland
  6. UK requests EU migration study, 13 months after Brexit vote
  7. EU defends airline data-sharing after court ruling
  8. Stop blaming Trump for Poland’s democratic crisis