PL&B International E-news, Issue 58

1. SWIFT joins US Safe Harbor today

SWIFT announced today that to respond to EU criticisms on its privacy policies, it has joined the US Safe Harbor and plans to move its mirror operating site from the US to Europe for intra-European transactions.

SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) the international financial transaction service with headquarters in Belgium, has announced a package of measures designed to cope with privacy objections first raised in June 2006, when three US newspapers revealed that the US Treasury was monitoring its international financial traffic. SWIFT has over 8,100 member banks and other financial institutions in 208 countries. It has two ‘mirror’ operating centres, one in Europe and the other in the US, where the Treasury subpoenas were served requiring it to give access to messages.

First came the announcement on June 28th from the EU that the US Treasury had made a series of ‘Representations’ about how it would handle financial messages from SWIFT that it scrutinized. The EU said that this would satisfy European privacy standards if the customers of banks were informed.

Then came the announcement from SWIFT today that it had been accepted by the US Commerce Department’s ‘Safe Harbor’ programme, meaning that personal data processed in the US it would be regarded by the European Commission as adequately protected by the standards of European privacy laws.

A fuller report will be included in the Privacy Laws & Business International Newsletter to be published next week, available only on subscription.

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Copyright Privacy Laws & Business 2007