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Federal judge dismisses SWIFT data protection lawsuit

[JURIST] A federal district judge Friday dismissed a breach of privacy lawsuit against the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) [organization website]. The Belgium-based international banking cooperative disclosed personal information [JURIST report] about its customers to third parties, including the CIA and US Treasury Department. Ian Walker and Stephen Kruse said their privacy rights were violated because each had engaged in wire transactions that might have been processed by SWIFT, although neither disclosed his bank name. Judge T. S. Ellis III of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia [official website] wrote:

There is no allegation that plaintiffs' bank or banks are members of SWIFT, nor is there any information indicating that plaintiffs' financial information was disclosed by SWIFT...Plaintiffs rely on their own belief that their financial information has been disclosed, but such a belief, without more, cannot support standing.
The ruling leaves open the possibility that Walker and Kruse could file an amended suit, naming their banks. AP has more.

The case began in federal district court in Chicago, but SWIFT moved to transfer the case to Virginia. The Department of Justice had considered invoking the state secrets privilege [JURIST report] to halt the lawsuit out of concern that it might reveal to much about SWIFT programs designed to prevent the financing of terrorism.

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