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US, EU reach agreement on financial data monitoring in terror probes

[JURIST] Diplomats from the United States and the European Union (EU) said Wednesday they have reached a provisional agreement [press release] on the US use of financial data from the Belgian-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) [official website], formulating more EU oversight of the US Terrorist Finance Tracking Program [US DOT statement]. The agreement ensures that the US adheres to EU privacy laws by restricting the use of the data to anti-terror probes and granting the EU periodic reviews of the data's use to ensure compliance.

Last November, the European Commission's Article 29 Data Protection Working Party [official website] reported that SWIFT violated European privacy laws [JURIST report] when it released information about cross-border wire transfers by European citizens to the US government. A Belgian report [JURIST report] also concluded that "massive amounts of personal data for surveillance without effective and clear legal basis" were supplied by SWIFT. The New York Times and other papers revealed the once-secret program [JURIST report] in June 2006, prompting sharp criticism [press briefing] from the Bush administration. AP has more.

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