Thursday

18th Oct 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.”

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

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.

Russian activist warning on 'fake news' as EU backs action

In 2015, internet activist Lyudmila Savchuk went under cover to expose a troll factory in St Petersburg. As the EU summit endorses anti-disinformation action, she told EUobserver the Russian government is bankrolling many more.

News in Brief

  1. Rutte: summit was 'not the moment' for higher climate ambition
  2. Legal text for Brexit relocation EU agencies agreed
  3. Greek foreign minister resigns over Macedonia deal
  4. No Brexit backstop means no approval, says EU parliament
  5. Poland questions supremacy of EU court
  6. Medvedev to meet Juncker and Merkel in Brussels
  7. Italians and Czechs least favourable to remaining in EU
  8. Facebook hack set to be first major test of EU data rules

Opinion

Interpol, China and the EU

China joins a long list of countries - including Russia - accused of abusing Interpol's 'Red Notice' system to harras activists and dissidents.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. Asylum reforms derailed, as EU looks to north Africa
  2. EU leaders worried about Italy's budget
  3. Russian activist warning on 'fake news' as EU backs action
  4. Kaczynski: No question of Polish EU exit
  5. EU summit to accept urgency of climate action – but no measures planned
  6. MEPs demand more from EU on human rights in Asia
  7. EU migration solutions are on the table - let's adopt them
  8. No progress at Brexit summit, talks continue

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us