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Friday, February 12, 2010

Any connection between your bank data and US authorities?

Way back in 2006 questions were being raised here and elsewhere about access by US agencies to details of bank transactions outside the US, and the privacy implications, said to be a necessary element in the war on terror. So interesting to see the European Parliament has rejected an agreement for sharing bank data that allow US authorities to monitor Europeans' financial transaction data from SWIFT, the international banking transfer system.It's been going on for 9 months under interim arrangements. Lots of voices that the vote represents a major setback for international security, with a few such as the German Minister for Justice claiming it enhanced not only data-protection in Europe, but also democracy, and was therefore a victory for all EU citizens.

In October 2006 when the issue blew up here, the Federal Privacy Commissioner said she was considering having a closer look at Australian banks and access to data issues arising from their use of SWIFT, which all our banks use to facilitate international financial transactions. There is a reference to SWIFT in the Commissioner's Annual Report 2006-2007, but I couldn't quickly track it down. The Australian Privacy Foundation gave the Australian banks collectively their biggest danger to privacy award that year.

Will the European Parliament vote prompt inquiry about what comfort we should take from arrangements and agreements the Australian Government and the banks have with the US, and through SWIFT, about such things?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:19 pm

    Whilst my early experiences with the Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner were positive, I am now of the opinion that it has turned into yet another government bureaucracy – all too often siding with big business.