EU Keeping an Eye on Financial Data Sent to U.S. via SWIFT

Lora Bentley

Since at least 2006, European banks have been providing the United States with financial information via the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) as part of the Bush Administration's War on Terror. The initiative, known as the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program , gives the U.S. Treasury Department the authority, by any means necessary, to "identify, track and pursue" those who provide financial support to terrorist organizations.


In a speech observing Data Privacy Day, however, European Union Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding indicated she doesn't think all the data the EU sends via SWIFT is absolutely necessary, according to TG Daily. She said:

I remain to be convinced that all these SWIFT transfers are necessary, proportionate and effective to fight terrorism. I will be looking into this very closely in the coming weeks... I want to make sure that our EU legislation and international agreements are based on evidence rather than on emotional responses to the latest scare.

Reding also urged greater privacy controls on behavioral advertising because "[u]sers are not always aware that they are being tracked whenever browsing the Internet." In her view, data gathered without the users' informed prior consent should not be used.

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