EU politicians call for suspension of data-sharing deal amid new NSA spying allegations

News that the NSA may have spied on Swift provokes outrage in the EU

European politicians on Monday called for the immediate suspension of a data-sharing agreement between the U.S. and the European Union following more revelations of spying by the U.S. National Security Agency.

The Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) provides the U.S. Treasury with data stored in Europe by the international bank transfer company Swift. However documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and reported by The Washington Post indicate the NSA spied on Swift. The company is included in an NSA training manual for new agents on how to target private computer networks, according to the documents.

"I think there is more than enough evidence to call for a suspension," said Dutch Member of the European Parliament Sophie In't Veld. "Formally, it is for the Commission to propose the suspension and then for the Council to decide. But we in Parliament can call for the suspension in the strongest terms."

German MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht agreed. "The revelations about NSA surveillance of Swift make a mockery of the E.U.'s agreement with the U.S. The NSA surveillance is an open breach of the agreement and further undermines the already insufficient data protection given to European citizens under the deal," he said in a statement.

The TFTP agreement was controversial from the start with Parliament only reluctantly agreeing to it in 2010.

"We constituted the legal basis for the transfer of data, which as imperfect as it may be, is at least legal. If the U.S. then decides to use other means to access that data, there is no justification. I want to know if they were they doing this back in 2010 when we were debating TFTP like idiots," said In't Veld.

A third annual review of the program took place in recent weeks, but results have not yet been published. However, the second review sparked anger among MEPs last year when it revealed that the written requests made by the U.S. for European banking data were too vague to assess whether they meet E.U. data standards. But Europol went ahead and rubber stamped them anyway.

A European Parliament resolution, approved by 483 votes to 98 with 65 abstentions on July 4, said that the E.U. should consider all options at its disposal, including suspending the TFTP agreement, as it asks for answers about the NSA spying allegations.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service
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