EU panel raises concerns over transfer of banking data

26 September 2006

A European Union (EU) panel is expected to call for stronger safeguards on a Bush administration program that monitors international financial transactions.

The program was introduced in the wake of 9/11 to enable US intelligence agencies to track potential terrorist financing among millions of confidential financial transactions.

The transactions are processed by the Belgian-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or Swift.

However, the EU's 25 national data protection officers are expected to recommend tighter controls on data amid concerns over the legality of the program.

"We don't see the legal basis under the European law, and we see the need for some changes," said Peter Schaar, a German official who leads the panel.

He said all clients of financial institutions "have a right to know" what happens to their confidential data, according to the Associated Press.

Swift assured that the data transferred to the US was used confidentially and that the US Treasury only used the information it received "for the exclusive purpose of terrorism investigations".

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