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EU panel delays report on US financial transactions monitoring program

[JURIST] An EU panel comprised of European data security officials has decided to delay the release of a final report on a Bush administration program that keeps track of international financial transactions until further investigations into whether the program violates EU privacy law are complete. On Monday, Peter Schaar, head of the European Commission's Article 29 Data Protection Working Party [official website], criticized [JURIST report] the White House-authorized program, doubting its legality under European Law. The data officials are expected to reconvene in November to give a final report on the program and potentially recommend measures to help guard against abuses of privacy.

The New York Times and other papers revealed the once-secret program [NYT report; JURIST report] in June, prompting sharp criticism from the Bush administration, which defended the initiative [press briefing]. The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee later encouraged the administration to press criminal charges [JURIST report] against the media for publicizing the program, which allowed the CIA [official website] to monitor international financial transactions processed by Swift [official website], a Belgium-based banking cooperative. A London-based civil liberties group subsequently asked data-protection and privacy officials in more than a dozen countries to prevent the further release of confidential financial information [JURIST report] to American authorities. According to US government officials, the program targets those with suspected ties to Al Qaeda. AP has more.

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