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Parliament gives green light to new, improved data sharing agreement with USA


08 Jul 2010

Today the European Parliament finally gave its green light to the recommendation on a new EU-US Financial Messaging Data Agreement in which the Liberal and Democrat group played an instrumental role in steering it through Parliament and ensuring that personal data privacy is better protected. 484 MEPs in favour, 109 against, 12 abstentions

Alexander Alvaro (FDP, Germany) who drafted Parliament's position and led negotiations with the other institutions commented:
"Parliament has stood up for citizens' rights to privacy by insisting that the current transfer of bulk data via Swift will be replaced by a properly controlled European data transfer system."

The European Parliament withheld its consent to the conclusion of the first EU-US Financial Messaging Data Agreement (FMDA) in February this year due to concerns over data privacy.

ALDE has been at the forefront asking for a number of improvements in the new Agreement and has ensured that the rights of the innocent individual can be protected whilst still acknowledging the value of financial data tracking in the fight against terrorism.

The key features of the new agreement include:
• that a twin-track approach can be accepted, if strict safeguards are included in the envisaged EU-US agreement, and, that in the longer term a durable, legally sound European solution to the issue of the extraction of requested data on European soil be envisaged;

• that a public authority should be designated in the EU with the responsibility to receive requests from the United States Treasury Department;

• that the agreement should also provide for evaluations and safeguard reviews by the Commission at set times during its implementation;

• that the specific rights of European and US citizens (e.g. access, rectification, deletion, compensation and redress) are put in place on a non-discriminatory basis, regardless of the nationality of any person whose data are processed pursuant to it.

The new Agreement contains also the legally binding commitment by Council and Commission to set up the framework allowing for the extraction of data on EU soil. This commitment will in the mid-term ensure the termination of bulk data transfers to the US authorities. The establishment of a European extraction system represents a very important improvement, as the continued transfer of data in bulk is a departure from the principles underpinning EU legislation and practice.


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