MEPs call for suspension of EU-US Swift agreement following new NSA revelations

Dutch deputy Sophie in't Veld has requested that the European commission immediately suspend the EU-US terrorist finance tracking programme (TFTP) while new NSA revelations are investigated.

By Kayleigh Lewis

10 Sep 2013

"New revelations are surfacing all the time about the extent of US spying on friendly allies and innocent civilians," she said.

"It is increasingly evident that the NSA data tracking programmes go far beyond the fight against terrorism."

Recent accusations in the media allege that the US national security agency (NSA) has direct access to EU citizens' personal financial data from worldwide financial database Swift.

"It is increasingly evident that the NSA data tracking programmes go far beyond the fight against terrorism"

"If proven to be true, then I don't see how such cooperation can be continued," said in't Veld, who has been an outspoken critic of the NSA since the original Prism allegations were revealed.

The EU-US agreement on the terrorist finance tracking programme has been in place since August 2010 and allows the exchange of financial information to ensure that the privacy of EU citizens is protected and assist in the prevention of terrorism.

However, the ALDE MEP said that according to recent media reports "the US believes they can use Swift data for all sorts of purposes, unrelated to terrorism".

"That constitutes two clear breaches of the EU-US TFTP agreement, which would definitely justify a suspension.

She also emphasised that "parliament made it abundantly clear three years ago when we reluctantly approved the EU-US TFTP agreement that we would not tolerate any abuse of the data or terms of the agreement".

"I have written to the commission requesting that they now immediately suspend the agreement whilst the revelations are being investigated," she concluded.

ALDE group president Guy Verhofstadt agreed, saying, "If there is the slightest doubt that the US authorities are in breach, the commission should immediately initiate action to suspend the agreement pending clarifications."

The Belgian MEP said that the commission should "at the very least" make a statement in Strasbourg outlining what it knows about the latest accusations.

"The Lisbon treaty gave the European parliament the power to approve international treaties, he said, adding, "We have a responsibility to monitor the follow up and call for suspension or termination when necessary.

"We cannot continue loyal cooperation in data exchange with US authorities with this NSA dark cloud hanging over our heads."

Jan Philipp Albrecht, parliament's rapporteur for its new EU data protection rules, also weighed in saying that the revelations "make a mockery of the EU's agreement with the US".

He added, "If it is to be consistent, the European parliament must act on this and press the European commission to terminate the agreement. Failure to do so would be an act of hypocrisy."

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