Privacy: This week, the European Parliament voted to immediately suspend the sharing of European financial tracking data with the United States in a 280-254 decision, as well as calling for criminal investigations of the NSA. This follows in the footsteps of mass surveillance revelations that the NSA has illegally hacked into the SWIFT financial data. This appears to be yet another public wake-up and backlash against the secretive wiretapping industry.
The European Parliament has voted to immediately suspend the SWIFT data-sharing program with the United States. This follows on revelations that the NSA has hacked into the SWIFT system, which manages European and global financial transactions, and illegally given themselves access to the entire system. The European Parliament considers this to be so thorough and brutal a breach of trust, that the data-sharing agreement is called to be revoked immediately.
Under the so-called SWIFT data-sharing agreement, European financial transactions are sent to the United States in bulk, in a joint attempt to combat terrorism in the Terrorist Finance Tracking System (TFTS). Critics of the program have pointed out that it is a privacy violation of European citizens, as well as a naïve way of giving U.S. industries the upper hand in business negotiations by giving them an information advantage.
The European Parliament instructs the police of the European states to begin criminal investigations into the NSA’s dealings:
(from the Europarl report)
10. Asks the Council and the Member States, in the light of the above, to authorize an investigation by the Europol Cybercrime Centre into the allegations of unauthorized access to financial payment data governed by the Agreement;
11. Calls on the special inquiry by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs into the mass surveillance of EU citizens to further investigate the allegations of unlawful access to financial payment messages covered by the Agreement;
The SWIFT data-sharing agreement was championed by European Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, who first negotiated it while sitting on a different chair, and then championed it from the Commission once having been appointed European Commissioner, insisting that the European Parliament must approve it. She has bet a lot of her career on this data-sharing, and the European Parliament’s vote this week is not just a blow to the credibility and trustability of the United States, but also to her personal political career.
It remains to be seen if Commissioner Malmström intends to defy the European Parliament by refusing to suspend the data sharing. It also remains to be seen if a revocation of voluntary data sharing has any practical effect, seeing how the NSA has illegally given itself access to the data anyway.