4th July 2012. The ALDE group in the European Parliament believes the EU/US Terrorism Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) agreement (or the SWIFT data tracking agreement) is “in reality, a dead letter”, after a report that shows the process of data transfer to the US is, in practice, neither limited nor regulated.
The ALDE statement comes after some alarming conclusions from a second monitoring of the Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) of Europol on the transfer of bank data from SWIFT to the US, as presented in a three page summary of an otherwise secret report (http://mailer.alde.eu/link.php?M=3927&N=1499&L=839&F=T).
ALDE had endorsed the EU/US TFTP agreement earlier this year with considerable reservations. The group says that it had only given its support, assisting the agreement’s passage through Parliament, in return for a commitment from the European Commission to set up a system for the extraction of data on European soil (which in theory should help limit what data is exported to the US). “However, the Commission to date has not delivered on its promise. Data is still being transferred to the US in bulk,” says ALDE MEP Sophie in’t Veld (D66, The Netherlands), vice-president of the Civil Liberties Committee.
“The main aim of the agreement was to limit and regulate the transfer of data to the US,” she says. “However the conclusions seem to indicate that there is no limitation of data transferred, neither geographically, nor in time. If this observation is true, it means that the key objective of the report is not met, and that Europol and the Commission do not carry out their oversight obligations properly. Furthermore, it would seem that the practice that was denounced in last year’s report, namely the transfer of data on the basis of oral requests, has not ended.”
ALDE is now calling for a Parliamentary debate with the European Commission on the implementation of the EU/US Terrorism Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) agreement. It is also calling for the full JSB report to be made public, rather than only the three page summary.
“Parliament is unable to exercise any meaningful scrutiny without access to this document. If governments get access to bank data of citizens, then citizens have a right to know how the agreement is being implemented. The decision to classify the report is not only contrary to the principles of transparency that the EU itself promotes around the world, it is also against EU law and case law in this area,” says in’t Veld.