EU foreign ministers today gave the go-ahead to European Commission president José Manuel Barroso to negotiate a deal with the US to allow their intelligence agencies access to the Swift system, which helps clear international banking transactions.
German politicians have cried foul over the move.
“It is unreasonable and excessive that banking data can be inspected without any criminal suspicion,” environmentalist Green Party deputy parliamentary floorleader Jürgen Trittin said in an interview published Monday in the daily Berliner Zeitung.
“The federal government should not agree under any circumstances to allow this attack on principle of personal data privacy,” Trittin said.
On the opposite end of the political spectrum, the head of the conservative Christian Social Union, sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), also denounced the measure.
“That such a wide-reaching intervention into the personal privacy rights of citizens by the bureaucracy is possible, without the involvement of the European or German parliaments, is a scandal,” said CSU head Horst Seehofer at a speech in Munich on Monday.
An agreement between the US and EU could be in place by autumn.
In addition to being able to monitor financial transactions that cross borders, the US government could also have access to data about purely domestic transactions, warned the German government's commissioner for data privacy, Peter Schaar.
In an interview with the broadcaster Deutschlandfunk, he demanded that the German and European parliaments be given the right to scrutinize the deal.