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Swift in Dock re Privacy ?

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SWIFT in Dock re Privacy?

A human rights group has announced that it has lodged complaints with data protection authorities in 32 countries against Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, or SWIFT (a consortium of financial institutions), claiming that it has violated European and Asian data protection rules by providing the USA with confidential information about international money transfers.

SWIFT is the nerve centre of the global banking industry. It operates a secure electronic messaging service that 7,800 financial institutions use to communicate with their counterparts in more than 200 countries. Each day, the network routes nearly 4.8 trillion euros, among banks, brokerages, stock exchanges and other institutions.

The violations are alleged because SWIFT appear to have made these transfers without the consent of the individuals involved or the approval of the appropriate judicial and administrative authorities. The human rights group is concerned that SWIFT has failed to protect European civil liberties in this process.

Officials in the USA have defended these actions as playing an important role in the war against terrorism, yet the EU is being urged to call for an inquiry into the legality of SWIFT's actions. Simon Davies, director of Privacy International said, "...these transfers could be made on the grounds of national security, but SWIFT did not seek approval from European authorities to do this... It was willing to overlook European civil liberties rules in order to satisfy U.S. objectives, and this is the most recent in a long list of attempts by the U.S. to invade the privacy of Europeans."

If found guilty SWIFT may face fines or an order to stop the transfers.

This article is reproduced from Eversheds e80 service. You can find out more about Eversheds e80 and search the Eversheds e80 archive at www.eversheds80.com. e80 is provided by Eversheds for information purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. It is reproduced here by kind permission of and is © Eversheds.

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