The European Union has approved a deal that will allow the Bush administration to continue its secret monitoring of international-financial transactions. The records have been obtained through SWIFT, which directs trillions of dollars in international bank transfers each day. The program came to light last year and has drawn criticism for violating privacy rights. European Union spokesperson Frisco Abbing said those concerns have been addressed.
Abbing said, "I think we have found now an approach which is satisfactory, both for ensuring that the EU also remains a reliable partner with the United States in the fight against terrorism, including the financing of terrorism, while on the same time very much catering for the very legitimate data-protection concerns and needs which we have put forward."
Civil-liberties advocates are voicing concern over the deal.
Amnesty International Belgium director Philippe Hensmans said, "What is important is that people know that their data will be transferred to the United States and possibly to other countries, or at least to other organizations within the United States, and that those data could one day be used, be interpreted and used, against them. As far as the use of data is concerned, we just gave a blank check to the Americans…. We should have been much more cautious. All this come to various data being exchanged, like the deal on ADN information, who could also get widened to other countries. We have no guarantee against this. All this shows that our private sphere is shrinking, and that's a matter of concern."
Comment June 29: The mundane issue isn't that one has nothing to hide. The issue is what illegal and immoral things do the secretive government led by the neocons do with the information or data.