European lawmakers still worried about banking data security

Europol accused of rubberstamping with no thought for data protection

Europe's police force, Europol, has approved requests to send private citizens' banking data to the U.S. Department of Treasury without sufficient consideration for data protection laws, according to an internal report.

An official report on an investigation carried out by the organization's Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) was made public by the German Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information on Wednesday.

Since August 2010, the European Union has allowed European citizens' financial data to be transferred to the U.S. under the Terrorist Finance Tracking Agreement, also known as the Swift agreement. However, one stricture of the accord specifies that the U.S. must "clearly substantiate the necessity of the data" in combating terrorism.

The JSB inspection team was made up of seven data protection experts who found, that of the four requests made by the U.S. since the Swift pact was established, all were too abstract to allow proper verification for whether they comply with the accord.

The report concludes that given the dearth of information, verifying whether the requests to date "are in line with the conditions of the agreement, is impossible."

Oral statements from the U.S. Treasury to Europol personnel had a bearing on the decisions, but even the JSB team has no knowledge of the content of those statements. Therefore it is impossible to tell whether omissions in the written requests were rectified by oral information, according to the report. This renders proper inspection by Europol's Data Protection Office impossible, concluded the report.

Giving Europol a role in implementing the controversial agreement was one of the concessions made to the European Parliament after it initially rejected the accord over concerns about civil liberties. On Wednesday these misgivings resurfaced. Parliamentarians said that Europol appears to be just rubberstamping requests for the transfer of bulk data, without any kind of scrutiny or oversight.

Alexander Alvaro, Parliament's rapporteur on the TFTP Agreement, called for "all relevant documents must be declassified."

"This report should send alarm bells ringing in Brussels," added Sophie In't Veld, vice-president of the parliamentary committee on civil liberties. "It would seem Europol has not been respecting the agreed data protection safeguards which we insisted upon as a condition for this agreement to go ahead. We need clarification on how these data transfers are being processed."

The Commission is due to publish its evaluation of the TFTP on March 17.

Tags securityregulationlegaldata breachfinancedata protectionindustry verticalsgovernmentcybercrimeprivacyEuropol

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?