EU responds strongly to Snowden’s allegations of NSA monitoring of SWIFT data

25 September 2013

European politicians have expressed their anger about allegations emanating from the whistleblower Edward Snowden that the US National Security Agency (NSA) spied on bank-to-bank messaging data transmitted over the SWIFT network.

In a meeting of the EU Civil Liberties Committee yesterday, European politicians said they had failed to get a satisfactory rebuttal of the allegations from the US government and raised the possibility of ending the EU-US Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) over the issue. The row mirrors an earlier row from a few years ago involving US investigations into terrorist funding over the SWIFT network which breached the EU Data Protection Act and went beyond what EU politicians considered to be normal, with SWIFT stuck in the middle of the Atlantic row. A data sharing deal was reached back in 2010 to resolve the issue but the latest allegations of NSA monitoring once more threatens to reignite the issue.

These latest arguments come in the wake of the Prism snooping scandal revealed by Edward Snowden and could cause another trans-Atlantic row. Visa’s payments processing network has also been fingered by Snowden as having been ‘infiltrated’ by the NSA and its partners in the UK and elsewhere, which are involved in global intelligence gathering operations. Both Visa and SWIFT deny any wrong-doing and say they are unaware of any intrusion into their systems.

The EU Home Affairs Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, told Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) yesterday, that she is: "not satisfied with the answers I got so far," and demanded “more information and clarity” after what she considered to be an unsatisfactory response to a letter she wrote to US Treasury Under Secretary, David Cohen, on 12 September to ask for clarification on the issue.

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