Brusselsblogger makes a very good case why the European Parliament has to reject the SWIFT data proliferation deal this week, despite the aggressive moves from the United States diplomatic corps to keep the interim agreement. The PR machine is running full speed, we are told how indispensable the date results were in the fight against terrorism for our domestic law enforcement purposes. While terrorism alone cannot disrupt our financial markets the SWIFT data proliferation bears the potential to achieve that. Let me add another two aspects to the great Brusselsblogger analysis:
I. The missing larger context argument: Europe currently suffers from an unprecedented post-War financial crisis. It is founded in permissive financial market regulations and US financial stimulus in the aftermath of the very Islamic terrorist attack. The loss of financial market confidence affects European families and the financial stability of European economies such as Greece, Spain and others. Some European nations are close to national bankruptcy, some neighboring countries like Iceland passed that stage
A rejection of the proposed SWIFT financial data proliferation agreement would sent a strong message to citizens that policy makers take a more sensitive approach towards financial regulation. Given that US counter-terrorism context of the current financial crisis it can hardly be understood that a Spanish Presidency takes a permissive approach, and some European decision makers still believe that anti-terrorism uses of the date out-weight the malpractice, irresponsible administration of toxic data.
II. The financial bulk data could be used for US business espionage and cause devastating effects on the financial market and financial market confidence. Furthermore the agreement is lukewarm in its permission to share such data with other nations, which may be more aware of the toxic nature of the data and seek their advantage. By all means European policy makers have to prevent a financial data crisis, that is undermining trust in electronic financial data transactions by opening pandora’s box.
It is not about “privacy” of citizens as the news agencies report, that is really the minor concern. A majority of European policy makers fully agrees in principles to use the data for anti-terrorism requests from law enforcement agencies (which requires careful administration and strongest safeguards).
In a conventional narrative our personal “privacy” interests would be weighted against public “security” interests of our government which seeks to counter terrorism and other serious crimes. Some politicians and media observers think along these lines which are on a lower level. Here the general trust in financial transaction services, our European financial transaction markets are at stake.