US wins back right to snoop on European bank data

The United States can once again tap into European banking data as part of its investigations into terrorism, after the EU agreed to a deal which came into force Sunday.


The European Parliament blocked access in February, because of fears over privacy. This week, it agreed to a new deal that it says provides more safeguards.

Back in February, the European Parliament used its newly-gained powers under the Lisbon Treaty to block US access to banking data.

The new five-year agreement allows the US to mine banking data to track the financing of what it defines as terrorism. But it allows Europol, the European police organisation, to check the validity of US requests.

This week, the parliament accepted the change as a sufficient safeguard.

Lawmakers were mainly concerned that personal information - including data from electronic bank payments - would be used by the US and handed over to other governments.

US President Barack Obama said that the deal makes the citizens of the US and Europe safer.

But US officials said the five-month interruption left a "security gap".

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