SWIFT supports calls for EU-US talks on security and data privacy

Brussels - 28 September 2006

Urges solution at EU-US governmental levels

Belgian Prime Minister Verhofstadt today announced the conclusions of the Belgian Data Privacy Commission advisory report on SWIFT’s compliance with subpoenas issued by the United States Department of the Treasury (UST) for its ongoing terrorism investigations.

The advisory report states that SWIFT was caught in the middle of a conflict between Belgian and US law.

“The review has raised important issues about the balance between data privacy for consumer protection purposes and use of financial data for security and counter-terrorism purposes”, said SWIFT CEO Leonard H. Schrank. “We wholeheartedly support calls for US and EU authorities to work together to develop an improved framework to reconcile data privacy protections with today’s pressing security concerns.”

SWIFT’s US branch has been subject to valid and compulsory subpoenas which required it to transmit a limited subset of its stored message data to the US Treasury. SWIFT’s compliance was legal, limited, targeted, protected, audited and overseen. In doing so, SWIFT obtained unique and extraordinary protections and assurances to protect the confidentiality of its members’ data. SWIFT also did its utmost to comply with the European data privacy principles of proportionality, purpose and oversight.

SWIFT welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the discussions going forward, and in the meantime we will continue to work with our members to resolve any data privacy concerns.

SWIFT values the trust that our members have placed in us for more than 30 years and we will continue to work vigorously to protect and maintain that confidence.

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