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Weighing Belgian and EU privacy laws over SWIFT

brussels bureau

Weighing Belgian and EU privacy laws over SWIFT


After conclusion of a national probe, uncertainty persists over whether Belgium may have compromised EU data protection law in the case of the company SWIFT. Belgium says the firm fell short of Belgian privacy rules in transferring personal bank account data to the CIA after September 11, 2001.

But Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said no legal action was on the cards:

“What my conclusion is that it is absolutely necessary now to have a negotiation between the European Authorities and the US to find an agreement or maybe a treaty in which we define together what could be the necessary guarantees if we transfer personal data in our fight against terrorism.”

The European Commission said it would wait for the full details of the investigation before making any assessment of a possible conflict. The U.S. searches prompted concern that banking records could be used for industrial and financial espionage against European companies.

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