European data protection supervisor Peter Hustinx has called on the European Union to be more open about its stance towards the draft agreement of the Terrorist Financing Tracking Programme (TFTP) between the US and the EU.
The TFTP will give the US access to European bank transfer data held by Belgian company Swift, supposedly to help track terrorism. But Hustinx questioned the "intrusive nature" of the agreement.
"I am fully aware that the fight against terrorism and terrorism financing may require restrictions to the right to the protection of personal data," he said.
"However, in view of the intrusive nature of the draft agreement, which allows transfers of data in bulk to the US, the necessity of such a scheme should first be unambiguously established, especially in relation to already existing instruments."
Hustinx argued that key elements in the draft should be improved from a data protection perspective, including data retention periods, the enforceability of citizens' data protection rights, judicial oversight and independent supervision.
This includes ensuring that bulk transfers are filtered in the EU first, that only relevant and necessary data is sent to US authorities and that the storage period for the data is considerably reduced if it is not related to terrorism investigations.
Members of the European Parliament have also outlined a number of concerns relating to the proposals, saying in April that the TFTP represents the first step in Europe's outsourcing its surveillance to the US government.
They also complained about the bulk nature of the transfers, arguing instead that the agreement should focus on specific suspects.
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