EU will not track terrorists' financial data due to data security concerns

Blanket data collection would be intrusive and potentially insecure says law-maker

By Jennifer Baker, IDG News Service |  IT Management

The European Union will not set up a Terrorist Finance Tracking System (TFTS) due to concerns about data security, according to a European Commission official.

There is currently a terrorist finance-tracking deal in place between the E.U. and the U.S that allows the U.S. Treasury to access some data stored in Europe by Swift, the Belgium-based banking data transfer network. There had been calls for a similar Europe-wide system to be set up. However Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström announced Wednesday that would not happen in the foreseeable future.

"In order to extract data on E.U. soil it would be necessary to create and manage a new database containing all the information of E.U. citizens' financial transfers. The creation of such database would raise serious challenges in terms of the data storage, access and protection," Malmström said.

Malmström added that "any E.U. system would be data intrusive and would therefore require robust data protection guarantees and safeguards to be put in place. It would be costly and also technically and operationally demanding to set up and maintain."

On the same day, the Commissioner also announced that the agreement with the U.S. would continue.

Last month European politicians urged the suspension of the deal, following allegations that the U.S. National Security Agency has tapped into Swift data without going through legal channels.

Malmström said that she received written assurances from the U.S. government that they had not breached the terms of the agreement. She did say that another review of the agreement would take place early next year.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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