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EU Committee Says No To Bank Data Sharing 160

krupert writes to let us know that the civil liberties committee of the European Parliament has voted to revoke the data-sharing arrangement by which US intelligence agencies have access to EU banking data via the SWIFT system. The US has threatened to withhold cooperation on terrorist intelligence if the bank data deal now in place is canceled, which it will be next week if the full European Parliament votes in line with the committee's recommendation. US intelligence agencies clandestinely tapped the SWIFT interbank clearing data from just after 9/11 until 2006, when the secret arrangement was made public. After that, Belgium-based SWIFT pulled their servers from the US and set up shop in Brussels, and the US had to negotiate with the EU to keep tapping the data.
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EU Committee Says No To Bank Data Sharing

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  • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Saturday February 06, 2010 @03:46PM (#31047402) Journal

    This is a great thing. US has no fucking business to our banking data or any other thing. The fact that US also did this secretly against a Belgian company is just outstanding and shows the level of hypocrisy going on (just like China secretly accessing Google's data anyone?!)

    Now if they just would get UK out of EU it would actually be quite an intelligent organization.

  • by CyborgWarrior ( 633205 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @03:53PM (#31047438) Homepage

    I think we are finally beginning to see some of the endings to the technology euphoria that have developed over the past 20 years. As technology and the internet improved and people discovered all of these extra amazing ways to make different processes more efficient, it's becoming more and more obvious that certain processes simply should not be efficient. This includes government ability to collect data as well as corporate ability to do the same. When it's harder to do, it's fine because it doesn't have as strong of an effect and the mere difficult limits its use. The easier it gets the more often it will be abused or over-used because it's possible.

    Essentially, just because we can build this network, doesn't mean we should. I'm giving a big nod of the head to the EU over this one.

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @03:59PM (#31047472) Homepage

    ...only be available to European governments.

  • It's about time! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by synoniem ( 512936 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @04:11PM (#31047552)

    Not that I trust my government but at least they are my government. It's obvious that the EU does not really care about data from European citizens going to the US but our international firms do. And further it's quite simple: not one bankrecord from the US went to Europe while all bankrecords from Europe went to the US. And that has to get even now.

  • by lordholm ( 649770 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @04:16PM (#31047588) Homepage
    It is reasonable that individual requests for banking data in the EU can be done by the US, but as should always be the case, this should go through proper channels, which means a court decision with human beings taking decisions. Secondly, if a person is investigated and not found to be involved in anything, he should be notified and given compensation. Further, if the US should be given access to EU banking data, then the US should grant the EU authorities access to US data (hah... that will never happen...). From a procedural point of view, this was one of the few real fuckups by the Swedish presidency of the Union. The deal was approved by the Council the day before the Lisbon treaty went into effect. This meant that the Parliament could not have anything to say in the contents (which they would have had if it had been passed the day after). Now, the Parliament cannot amend it, but they can reject it which I think the Council did not think of, now they get what they deserve :) And for all those who dislike Lisbon, can you tell me what is the problem with parliamentary influence over the additional areas given in the treaty?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 06, 2010 @04:20PM (#31047614)

    We in the US stopped trusting our government fifty years ago. I'm surprised it's taken Europe this long to realize that COINTELPRO wasn't an isolated incident.

  • by lordholm ( 649770 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @04:24PM (#31047648) Homepage
    The European governments already approved the deal in the Council. It is the the Union itself that is fighting to protect the citizens in this case.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 06, 2010 @04:31PM (#31047706)

    You are right, but isn't it really bad that being offended is the reason to vote against it and not audacity of the American demand to get highly personal data of European people en masse without control, without protection, without rights?

  • by Teun ( 17872 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @04:35PM (#31047732) Homepage
    Yeah right, 9/11 is the only successful terrorist attack ever.
    In the mean time don't be a moron, Europe has just as much to gain by effective anti terrorist intelligence as the rest of the civilised world.

    But there was nothing civilised or intelligent about the SWIFT treaty as it stood, it was utterly one-sided.

    We cannot avoid having learned from the stupidities in international politics the Bush-era has bestowed on the world, there were no safeguards what-so-ever the data was going to be used for purpose.

    When the US government can make a case sharing of European banking data is going to help all sides in our joint fight against violent and criminal zealots of any description I'm sure they could win the support of Europe.

    Because the UN includes some rather nasty members I won't go so far as to suggest a UN institute should do the intelligence but an international body is the only reliable way to handle such sensitive data.

    We all remember what happened when a European delegation was in China to sign off on an important Airbus contract and a US company could out of the blue undercut the price.

    Banking information is sensitive!

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @04:36PM (#31047740) Journal

    Frankly, I think the political and other events of the last decade have vndicated technophoria completely. Our democracy, in the United States, is stronger than it has ever been in our lifetimes. This is a golden age for the people to have a voice and it should be held up in history as such.

    Everyone has a voice, but nobody is heard. Our democracy amounts to the tiniest share of a choice between two similar groups of people who end up doing similar things. More and more laws are passed, resulting in an ever-narrowing box within which we have "freedom". Golden? I think not; gold does not tarnish.

  • by Elektroschock ( 659467 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @04:54PM (#31047842)

    Member states are bound by EU law. They cannot legally enter into bilateral agreements instead. In any case a divide et impera won't happen, it is too complicated. Diplomates are bound by a code of conduct. Proliferation of financial data is espionage, for officials without a legal base treason. SWIFT is a private company.

    The procedure is wrongly depicted: "At the moment, only a committee of the European Parliament voted against it in a test ballot. The real ballot is on Thursday next week." The responsible committee and the rapporteur discuss it and then submit their report to plenary for adoption. Their report says "sorry, we cannot accept the agreement."

    The European Parliament is pissed for another reason: The Council concluded the agreement one day before the entering into force of Lisbon. The Council adoption was an affront on Parliament competences.

    US administration directly lobbying the European Parliament members contravenes the diplomatic protocol.

  • by YesIAmAScript ( 886271 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @05:15PM (#31047942)

    I totally agree. This is another reason that we cannot trust the US anymore. Their only interest is their own interest, and everything else they do and say is hypocrisy. They sold out on all of their values. And I mean the US government, including the whole political system, but not all people living there. US business is a very bad factor in the world as well (think of banks), but the US state makes this possible.

    Everyone puts their own interests first. The EU is likely reject this treaty because doing so is in their own interests.

  • by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @05:17PM (#31047952) Homepage

    Thankfully the Lisbon Treaty serves for something, even if it has downsides. It also gave the Pirate Party its second seat [].

  • by FiloEleven ( 602040 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @05:21PM (#31047978)

    As a US citizen living under this government, I agree fully. It has taken on a life of its own that is miles away from serving the will of the people as it was intended to.

    I'm glad that the EU is taking steps to bind the beast. Those of us living in this country need to start large-scale protests over all the bullshit that's been dumped on us citizens and increasingly the rest of the world, and we need to get the rest of the populace to retake the mantle of The Public and the responsibility that it entails. American Imperialism is doomed to fail as all other empires have failed, but the sooner this course of action is halted the less painful it's going to be for everyone.

  • Tyrants (Score:2, Insightful)

    by paxcoder ( 1222556 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @05:22PM (#31047990)

    "The US has threatened to withhold cooperation on terrorist intelligence if the bank data deal now in place is cancelled" - US threatening Europe. Now, someone's crazy here. And it's not Europe (see also: software patents).

  • Familiar tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Erikderzweite ( 1146485 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @05:25PM (#31048008)

    So, the US government has terrorist intelligence in its power, demands access to European bank data and threatens to cut off the cooperation on terrorist intelligence (which may result in death of many people*) if its demands are not meat.
    This is a well-known tactics used by several smaller organizations and groups around the globe. Can't recall the name of a prominent one though... Al-Qsomething...

    * I don't believe that US' intelligence is useful (e.g. WMD), nor do I believe in terrorism fear-mongering, nor do I want to give up my rights for this -- free society has a price which I am ready to accept.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 06, 2010 @05:29PM (#31048028)

    I recommend moving to Switzerland. As long as you can limit the alcohol drinking... ;)
    They are not in the EU, it’s warmer, the food is better, the scenery is beautiful, they have a great air force, and nobody is going to put the country under pressure, that has all his money, anyway. ^^
    Plus, you get a (partially?) direct democracy with referenda. Which is the most valuable of all properties.

    Yeah, I hear it's a great place to live if you're a white, christian, non-slavic person of northern european descent with a lot of money.

  • by countertrolling ( 1585477 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @05:50PM (#31048156) Journal

    ...which I think is a good thing since the EP is accountable to the citizens

    Only if the citizens hold them accountable. And it's long past time to hold the citizens accountable for the politicians they elect.

  • by poena.dare ( 306891 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @06:20PM (#31048334)

    This US citizen agrees whole-heartedly.

    "The US has threatened to withhold cooperation on terrorist intelligence if the bank data deal now in place is canceled..."

    One would think that if combating terrorism was truly a US priority, the administration would continue to share terrorist intelligence regardless of what the EU does and instead threaten to withhold chicken wings, or iPhones, or Big Macs, or something else NOT security related.

  • by VitaminB52 ( 550802 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @06:48PM (#31048536) Journal

    Our democracy, in the United States, is stronger than it has ever been in our lifetimes.

    I'm sorry to say you're wrong. Democracy is about one (wo)man one vote, not about one lobbyist one vote, or one corporation one vote.
    The US of A recently crossed the thin line between democracy and democrazy, read the NY Times article: []

  • by anechoic ( 129368 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @08:39PM (#31049262)

    ...which was merely a way for the US to quickly expand its markets into a war torn Europe while busting unions to keep labor cheap and subverting at all costs to keep capitalism expanding - not only did the US make money on WWII but it made even more by 'rebuilding' Europe and installing our corporations and military everywhere it could

  • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Saturday February 06, 2010 @09:39PM (#31049584)

    The thing is, even with the bad areas here, at least we tend to tell our government and police/security services to shove it when they step over the line, and things usually get toned down to more reasonable levels once the initial hype behind the latest draconian measure has died down. See, for example, the way that ID cards have almost completely dropped off the political radar lately, recent public concern over the virtual strip searches being rolled out at airports, the actions of people in recording and circulating video of police abuses at peaceful demonstrations and the general concern over offensive tactics like kettling, and yes, the backlash that is building over the amount of CCTV we have now that its general lack of fitness for purpose and the frequency of abuse are becoming more widely understood.

    Sadly, these things operate on political timescales measured in years, and it usually takes similar lengths of time to understand and fix the problems. Injustices do happen in between, and we do as a society put up with more crap than I would like for longer than I would prefer. But at least we still seem to have a healthy degree of scepticism both within significant chunks of the general population and within both the directly elected parts of our government and our judiciary.

    Now, here's the kicker: even with all of these delays and the ever-present threats to basic rights, we still do better than the US, where it appears that any pretense of the federal government following even constitutional rules to protect the privacy and personal data of citizens is just a punchline (and God help anyone who isn't a US citizen and wants to have their basic rights respected, because the US legal system certainly won't).

    Some of your other claims are simply untrue: you don't need electronic ID for any of the things you mentioned. You do need some basic ID to open financial accounts these days, as a basic precaution against money laundering, but the requirements are reasonable given the nature of financial accounts, and not onerous for the person doing the opening.

  • by rhizome ( 115711 ) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @01:23AM (#31050590) Homepage Journal

    The funny thing is that the terrorists (that the US cares about) are only attacking the US and those who collude with the US. A refusal to cooperate with the US is likely the safer position to take. The only information about terrorists the US is going to withold is that which concerns any danger that countries incur by continuing relations with the US.

  • by h4rm0ny ( 722443 ) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @07:30AM (#31051616) Journal

    Yes, it's quite bizarre that we're being protected from our own governments by the EU. And yet this is what is happening. Even in other areas this is the case such as Human Rights, Animal Welfare and Envrionmental Standards (I'm not talking global warming in the last one, I'm talking chemical emissions, water pollution, etc). I dislike large government on principle, yet for the EU, it's working out better than our national ones. I've been to the EU parliament as well. And quite frankly, even though its remit is larger, it comes across even in its architecture and fittings, as more in touch and open than the UK parliament and offices.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak