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Homeland Security

Europe sets independent system for tracking finances of terrorists

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Brussels, July 13, IRNA -- The European Commission on Wednesday decided to establish European Terrorist Finance Tracking System independent of the United States.

The system had been established jointly with the United States after September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

The European Union needed “to find a European solution for extracting the requested data on European soil,” said Cecilia Malmström, the E.U. commissioner for home affairs.

Ms. Malmström’s proposals could help to quell criticisms that financial tracking jeopardizes European standards of privacy by establishing a parallel system that would share tips with the United States and other states.

Any European system “would need to fully respect fundamental rights, and in particular ensure a high level of data protection,” said Ms. Malmström.

A key objective would be “limiting the amount of personal data transferred to the U.S.,” according to a statement by Ms. Malmström’s department obtained by IRNA.

The current program allows American agencies to get access to European banking data held by a cooperative — the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or Swift.

The European Commission, the E.U. executive, then led negotiations with the United States to win assurances that any requests for information would be evaluated by the European police agency, Europol.

The European Parliament approved a revised agreement in July 2010.

Meanwhile, Members of the Strasbourg-based European Parliament, who have been vocal supporters of individual data privacy, are set to pore over the options.

The parliament regularly castigated the commission in the past for tipping the scales towards security in similar arrangements made with the US.

But some lawmakers who approved that agreement have criticized Europol for too readily approving American requests for large amounts of data, and they have suggested they could withdraw their support again in the future.

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