Monday

22nd Jan 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.

Rights NGOs face fresh threats in EU

While ongoing crackdowns in Poland and Hungary have put the spotlight on rights groups, NGOs are now under new political and financial pressure across the EU, the Fundamental Rights Agency said.

News in Brief

  1. Abbas in Brussels to discuss Palestinian state recognition
  2. Exiled Catalan leader leaves Belgium for first time
  3. CSU politicians set to oppose concessions to SPD
  4. Greek mass protests against use of 'Macedonia' in name dispute
  5. Oxfam report reveals inequality as Davos elite gather
  6. Macron: France would probably have voted to quit EU
  7. Germany confirms attendance at air quality summit
  8. Nearly half of 'fixed' Dieselgate cars show problems

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. How would Oettinger's ETS budget transfer work?
  2. New Polish foreign minister tries to charm EU commission
  3. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on the agenda This WEEK
  4. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  5. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems
  6. UK loses EU satellite centre to Spain
  7. Pay into EU budget for market access, Macron tells May
  8. Ethiopian regime to get EU migrants' names