EU considers walking away from US data agreement

The EU has had a gutsful of the US refusing to honour a deal on bank data monitoring and is thinking of walking away from it.

The US-European data agreement SWIFT was supposed to provide everyone with transparency about bank transactions, but it has been completely one sided. While the US has been getting the data it wanted, EU officials have been unable to get data back.

It came to a head yesterday when one European parliamentarian’s attempts to determine if US officials had accessed his personal account information failed.

The US has effectively shot itself in the foot over the deal. The European Parliament only approved  the SWIFT agreement with the United States with much reluctance. It allows the transfer of data pertaining to European bank customers to US investigators. You would expect that the US would be jolly happy with the deal and try to make sure it worked.

However it seems US arrogance has created a scenario where the Europeans rat on their citizens while the US keeps secret about its own spying activies. It is remarkably similar to the extradition arrangements between the US and Blighty where Britain has to turn over its citizens to US kangaroo courts while US citizens can flee home and not face UK justice.

However provisions of those guidelines have been widely ignored and last week a report from the Europol Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) noted that the written requests received by Europol, the EU-wide law enforcement organisation, from the US were too vague to decide on their validity.

Despite all this the Europeans have shown willing and agreed to every request. This has meant that they have not had the oversight of the process that they would have liked.

However another clause meant that every EU citizen has the right to know if American authorities had access to personal banking data and if so, which authorities received that information.

But Alexander Alvaro, a member of European Parliament from Germany’s Free Democrats, has been doing a test in an attempt to obtain the information entitled to him from German authorities.

However the German authorities have not yet been able to find out whether data has been accessed at all, because the US will not tell them.

This means that the rights of EU citizens on correction, deletion or blockage of the data are being violated and the SWIFT treaty is only being obeyed by the Europeans, who did not particularly want it in the first place.