The German Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information.
has published a scathing report about the lack auditing of the SWIFT Terrorist Finance Tracking Program by the European Police Office Europol, which is supposed to be filtering the US Government's secretive demands for our financial data transactions.
On 28 June 2010, the European Union and the United States of America signed an agreement on the processing and transfer of Financial Messaging Data from the European Union to the United States. This agreement forsees the transfers of financial payments messages referring to financial transfers for use in the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP). The financial payment messages are held by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT).
The TFTP Agreement gives Europol a specific role to check whether requests from the US Treasury Department for SWIFT data comply with the terms of the TFTP Agreement. The requests and the Pursuant to Article 34(1) of the Europol Council Decision, the Europol Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) has the task of reviewing the activities of Europol in order to ensure that the rights of the end, at its meeting of 11 October 2010, JSB mandated an inspection group to carry out an inspection.
The scope of the inspection was to check Europl's implementation of the TFTP Agreement, including all related items.
Astonishingly, for a Financial Crime investigations system, there is no effective audit trail !
At the time of the inspection, Europol had received four requests for SWIFT data. Those four requests are almost identical in nature and request - in abstract terms - broad types of data, also involving EU Member States' data. Due to their abstract nature, proper verification of whether the requests are in line with the conditions of Article 4(2) of the TFTP Agreement - on the basis of the available documentation - is impossible. The JSB considers it likely that the information in the requests could be more specific.
Information provided orally - to certain Europol staff by the US Treasury Department, with the stipulation that no written notes are made - has had an impact upon each of Europol's decisions; however, the JSB does not know the content of that information. Therefore, where the requests lack the necessary written information to allow proper verification of compliance with Article 4(2) of the TFTP Agreement, it is impossible to check whether this deficiency is rectified by the orally provided information.
The significant involvement of oral information renders proper internal and external audit, by Europol's Data Protection Office and the JSB respectively, impossible.
"oral information" ? "no written notes made" ?
How can the public be reassured that this financial data snooping is not, in fact, being abused for insider trading or other forms of corruption or fraud, when there is no audit trail of SWIFT data demands by the US government ?
All such SWIFT data transfers to the US Treasury or other US agencies must stop immediately until this data sharing is properly checked and audited.
The bureaucrats responsible at the European Commission, at Europol and in the USA, should be publicly named and shamed and questioned by the European Parliament.
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