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Privacy group seeks to block release of financial data to CIA anti-terror program

[JURIST] A London-based civil liberties group has asked data-protection and privacy officials in more than a dozen countries to prevent the further release of confidential financial information [press release] to American authorities. The watchdog group, Privacy International [advocacy website], said Wednesday that it had filed complaints in 13 European nations, as well as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong, to ensure that the records are withheld from an CIA anti-terrorism program [JURIST report; PI backgrounder] supervised by the US Treasury Department [official website]. In its complaints [PDF text], Privacy International said the records disclosures had no legal basis and should be suspended "pending legal review."

The monitoring program reviews financial records in an international database owned by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) [corporate website; Wikipedia backgrounder], the financial messaging service that serves as the backbone of the global banking industry. Bush administration officials, including the president [AP report], have criticized the media reports about the program [Snow letter to NYT editor], and at least one member of Congress has called for criminal charges [JURIST report] against newspapers that published them. AP has more.

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