EU Parliament approves anti-terrorism data sharing deal with U.S.

07:55, July 09, 2010      

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A new version of an inter-bank data sharing agreement with the United States for anti-terrorist aims was approved Thursday by the European Parliament.

Rejecting an initial agreement four months ago, the EP passed the five-year deal on a 484-109 vote with 12 abstentions. The measure is due to take effect Aug. 1.

The deal will cover only financial transactions to non-EU countries. One article rules out transfers of any data related to the Single Euro Payments Area.

A major gain for the EP is that the deal eventually eliminates "bulk" data transfers.

In exchange for backing the agreement, the EU could set up its own equivalent program similar to the U.S.' "Terrorism Finance Tracking Program," which would preclude the need for bulk data transfers.

Such a system would enable the EU to analyze data on its own territory and only transfer data related to a specific terrorist track.

The agreement also empowers "the European Police Office (Europol)", the EU's criminal intelligence agency based in The Hague, to block data transfers to the U.S.

Europol will make sure that every transfer requested by the U.S. Treasury Department is justified by counter-terrorism needs and that the data volume is as small as possible.

The new version also provides that the data transferred could only be used for counter-terrorism purposes and should be supervised by independent inspectors appointed by the European Commission and the European Parliament.

The agreement prohibits the TFTP from engaging in "data mining" or any other type of automated profiling or computer filtering. Any data searching will have to be based on existing information that shows that the search relates to terrorism or terrorism financing.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso welcomed approval of the measure, saying it respects the balance between the need to guarantee the security and rights of citizens against the threat of terrorism.

"This agreement helps to reinforce the transatlantic relationship and above all is key to counter-terrorism policy on both sides of the Atlantic," Barroso said.

Source: Xinhua


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