EU-US: Data Protection - PNR - Swift
01 May 2007
On Monday 14 May there will be a special meeting of the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) for the item "Transatlantic Dialogue" at which Michael Chertoff, United States Secretary of State Homeland Security, Minister Dr. Wolfgang Schauble, German Presidency and Franco Frattini, Vice-President of the Commission (and DG JHA) will be speaking: ,a href="http://www.statewatch.org/news/2007/may/ep-libe-eu-usa.pdf">LIBE agenda (pdf). In advance of the meeting Commissioner Frattini sent a letter to the chair of the LIBE Committee: Frattini letter
Also being circulated are so-called "15 Principles of Data Protection
" and being discussed in the "High Level Contact group on data protection and data sharing" - for which "the US delegation handed over a Proposed Outline"
of work. The USA is seeking to get a "global agreement" on the transfer of personal data in order to circumvent the tedious negotiations with the EU on each and every issue where EU data protection laws stand in the way of unfettered access to personal data.
One of the issue dealt with by Mr Frattini is the automated passing of financial transaction through SWIFT (transfers between countries) to the USA. His letter says that SWIFT is negotiating to ensure to "provide their customers with the necessary information"
. Statewatch has received complaints from people with online UK banking accounts informing them that from 14 May 2007 details of all financial transfers by them through SWIFT will be passed to US authorities for the purposes of money-laundering, terrorism and crime in general (not just terrorism as referred to in Mr Frattini's letter). They are asked to agree or not - and if not they cannot transfer money.
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:
"SWIFT's compliance with EU data protection laws appears to mean simply informing people that all their data will be transferred to the USA for any purpose connected to any crime with no obligation to tell them when and to whom it is passed, how it is processed, to whom it is passed on to, and for how long it is held, and to whom they can apply for their records or to whom they can appeal against the content and use of processing or further processing by un-named agencies and bodies.
If this is what data protection means then it is utterly worthless."