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MEPs Vote To Suspend Data Sharing With US 180

Posted by timothy
from the how's-that-for-gratitude? dept.
New submitter mrspoonsi writes with this news, excerpted from the BBC: "The European Parliament has voted to suspend the sharing of financial data with the U.S., following allegations that citizens' data was spied on....The European Parliament voted to suspend its Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) agreement with the US, in response to the alleged tapping of EU citizens' bank data held by the Belgian company SWIFT. The agreement granted the U.S. authorities access to bank data for terror-related investigations but leaked documents made public by whistleblower Edward Snowden allege that the global bank transfer network was the target of wider U.S. surveillance."
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MEPs Vote To Suspend Data Sharing With US

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  • by stewsters (1406737) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @09:57AM (#45223605)
    "MEPs vote to suspend US data sharing"

    How do they plan to stop it? I am being serious here. It sounds like the NSA has taps on all their data already, whether Europeans give it freely or not.
    • Re:Good luck (Score:5, Informative)

      by Aryden (1872756) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @10:11AM (#45223795)
      They are talking about a specific program where the EU hands over financial data on suspected terrorists to the US. They will no longer be handing that data over willfully.
      • Re:Good luck (Score:5, Informative)

        by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Thursday October 24, 2013 @10:29AM (#45224017) Homepage

        And more specifically, they're talking about a program that undermines SWIFT. As a reminder, in the wake of 9/11 the Bush administration concluded that it could find terrorists through financial transaction tracking. The problem - global wire transfers and other financial messaging is controlled by a Belgian company. The CIA apparently had to be almost restrained from just immediately hacking them outright. Instead the US Treasury got involved and SWIFT were forced to hand over data by virtue of them having a US based datacenter (as a backup for their EU datacenter).

        SWIFT have said, several times and on the record, that they are not happy about being abused for political purposes and immediately began constructing a second backup datacenter also in the EU. The USA, seeing that their leverage over SWIFT was starting to disappear, decided to apply heavy pressure the EU in order to avoid losing access to this data source even after the US datacenter was decommissioned. The result was the EU data sharing agreement.

        The EU parliament was never particularly happy about this arrangement and insisted on there being auditing, etc, which turned out to be a worthless rubber-stamping exercise in which the EU appointed inspectors tried to visit the US Treasury and get reliable documentation on what the data was being used for, but were told to go fuck themselves and that the information they needed was classified. So basically the EU folded under pressure and was then abused, to nobodies surprise at all.

        Now that the TFTP data sharing agreement is suspended, and SWIFT no longer need their US datacenter, the only way back in is hacking. And I'm sure the people at SWIFT know that, and will do their best to stop it.

        Anyway, this is a very good thing. Next up - airline passenger data!

        • Now that the TFTP data sharing agreement is suspended, and SWIFT no longer need their US datacenter, the only way back in is hacking. And I'm sure the people at SWIFT know that, and will do their best to stop it.

          Anyway, this is a very good thing. Next up - airline passenger data!

          Yeah it's not like TFTP is very secure...

          (ducks)

        • Actually the backup data centre is outside of the EU, located in Switzerland.

    • Re:Good luck (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ledow (319597) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @10:25AM (#45223979) Homepage

      Why do they need to even bother to stop it? If the US are doing things that we don't want them to do anyway, why go to ANY effort to help them do them legally? This is about removing our assistance that we give them to do it, not stopping them being able to do it.

      Let them take the administrative burden (and I highly doubt they are monitoring every flight and every person on every flight, or else the agreement wouldn't have existed in the first place anyway), let them take the fall when the data is released by accident, and let it look to EU citizens like you're not caving in to the US (which is what we all accused them of when this agreement first appeared).

      Nobody expects it to STOP the US stealing the data, but why should we help them do so at enormous expense to us? It's like piracy - the data is going to be stolen anyway, so why bother putting in a system of controls, contracts and everything else to our cost?

      But, to be honest, this is nothing to do with data leaks or agreements. If you're not already reading this as the first step to broken EU/US relations, then you haven't been paying attention. That this happened is FAR MORE IMPORTANT than what's actually happened. No more easy rides for the US when they want something from us. (As it should be, because they never play ball when we ask for something).

      Even Anglo-US relations are tenuous nowadays. You've just pissed off the French and the Germans. That's pretty much the three biggest economies/countries in the EU. There's not much of a step left until the whole of the EU has problems with the way you do things.

      And then you can say bye-bye to us lending a hand for things like extraditions and terrorist bug-hunts. The EU followed the US into a pointless, long and very, very expensive "war" that never was (you can say what you want - it was NOT a war, legally or ethically - it's was a criminal hunt with guns in foreign countries), in the middle of massive economic troubles, and what did we see from it? Much stricter airport controls for ourselves, giving the US all our data (and getting nothing back), and lots and lots of expensive military action.

      And what do we get back for our assistance? The US spied on us and then couldn't even be bothered to keep the information properly secret (Note: A whistleblower running around the world telling people all these things is TEN TIMES more damning than the fact that you spied them in the first place - it's just amateur). That's not how you treat an ally.

      The biggest thing here is that the EU no longer wants to play ball with the US. If more things emerge, that distrust will deepen. You can play the "most important country in the world" card all you like, the fact is that the EU has more money in trade, and a much greater influence over other countries. It's going to hurt if the US continue to piss off the EU, and there aren't that many people in the EU who would care.

      It's a question of how long before this affects US trade and before we're the ones imposing sanctions and forcing agreements on the US. Because, seriously guys, you might be big, but without the co-operation of your allies, you're in serious trouble.

      • Re:Good luck (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mythix (2589549) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @10:56AM (#45224339)

        As a EU citizen, I can only agree. We're increasingly seeing the US (government) as the actual terrorists, which is the only truth as far as i'm concered. I'm happy these economic and data sharing relations are crumbling down. Maybe it will knock some sense into the US government.

        It's a pity for the social and human aspect though, I've been twice and love the country and people.

        • by rsborg (111459)

          As a EU citizen, I can only agree. We're increasingly seeing the US (government) as the actual terrorists, which is the only truth as far as i'm concered. I'm happy these economic and data sharing relations are crumbling down. Maybe it will knock some sense into the US government.

          It's a pity for the social and human aspect though, I've been twice and love the country and people.

          Don't pity us. Be happy. The demise of the NSA and US security empire as it exists begins at the extremities... we should never have annexed EU data in the first place.

        • by Fuzzums (250400)

          My guess is the nsa wouldn't mind if their servers were hacked by concerned Europeans. That's the same as what they do anyway. And don't complain. My national security is a national matter.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        If the US are doing things that we don't want them to do anyway, why go to ANY effort to help them do them legally?

        We were supposed to be friends. We always sort of knew that the Americans were assholes, but the recent revelations are beyond what most people believed. Now we have proof and are naturally unfriending them.

        Unfortunately the UK is full of arseholes as well, and now the people I used to do business with in the EU don't want to know me. We picked the wrong group to have a "special relationship" (i.e. gimp) with.

      • Even Anglo-US relations are tenuous nowadays. You've just pissed off the French and the Germans. That's pretty much the three biggest economies/countries in the EU. There's not much of a step left until the whole of the EU has problems with the way you do things.

        What are they going to do? We have far more military might than the EU combined, and the EU doesn't have a military chain of command worth speaking about.

        So this info "sharing" (aka data fealty) agreement is going to end. Perhaps this is for the best even for the US. As a citizen of the world, I think it's a move in the right direction.

        • by j35ter (895427)
          Your military might be impressive when facing a bunch of goatf*ckers hiding in caves. Facing modern armies (EU, Russia, China), it starts looking quite shabby.
        • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @03:36PM (#45228329)

          What are they going to do? We have far more military might than the EU combined

          As surprising as it apparently is to a certain kind of American, not everything in international relations has to be resolved with violence.

          The US is committing hostile acts against EU member states, and measures like withdrawing cooperation in these programmes are a reasonable and proportionate response. Trade sanctions would be a more serious step up: no-one would win in the short term if that happened, but the US would probably lose a lot more. There would be direct costs, of course, but also probably irreparable damage to the United States' wider international credibility and reduced cooperation from other nations who were already less predisposed to support the US on matters of mutual interest.

          From the outside, it seems very strange that so many people in the US are so proud of their vast military-industrial complex and security services. Here in the UK, the most damaging coverage of the US recently had nothing to do with spying or wars, not that those are winning many friends here. The really sad stuff was shots of pathetic posturing from the political leadership of both the main US parties, juxtaposed with footage of federal workers in DC holding banners saying "Please do your jobs so we can get on with ours", and stories of couples whose wedding days were spoiled, and descriptions of children with very serious health problems who weren't getting experimental drugs that were their only hope because the programmes to trial them were suspended. The idea that such a dysfunctional government, run by politicians so completely out of touch with the basic needs of their own people, should be trusted with anything of significance, security-related or otherwise, just seems bizarre at this point.

        • by tomtomtom (580791)

          What are they going to do? We have far more military might than the EU combined, and the EU doesn't have a military chain of command worth speaking about.

          Don't worry, the EU isn't about to invade the US in some weird reincarnation of Red Dawn. But they (or individual member states) could do a lot of things which would hurt the US a great deal.

          Off the top of my head for example, while still keeping things at least nominally relatively "targeted": (1) economically punish the US: impose import/export tariffs on relevant US goods/services (particularly tech but perhaps also bandwidth/peering etc), make it much much harder for US citizens to get visas to come ove

          • by rsborg (111459)

            Don't worry, the EU isn't about to invade the US in some weird reincarnation of Red Dawn. But they (or individual member states) could do a lot of things which would hurt the US a great deal.

            Off the top of my head for example, while still keeping things at least nominally relatively "targeted": [a list of things which would be highly unpopular with their constituency or go against WTO rules]

            Almost of these things you mention are very costly responses to the US, in some cases, the EU would actually lose more (e.g.: uprooting of a US base from German soil would likely have an economic effect like a tactical nuke).

            About the only things I think are low-cost for the EU would be the diplomatic moves - i.e., high profile, no major business or strategic impact. The removal of extradition/rendition agreements are probably for the best - given the dark and dirty uses they've been put to since the "war

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Well the EU telco staff now know. Its not legal and they have to pick a winning team and fast. What do a generation of cleared technicians, scientists, engineers and other graduates do working for their nations telcos?
      Do what their legal system says or keep helping a nice 'general', 'political leader', 'boss' who visits from time to time with expensive splitting optical "work"?
      Will that 'general', 'political leader', 'boss' protect them from their own internal security forces and any new investigations?
  • by sjwt (161428)

    How long before we hear calls to declare the whole EU as terrorist sympathisers?
    As more of this comes out, I hope others join the EU and we start looking at a embargo on sharing information with the US until it learns.

    • Re:Next up. (Score:5, Funny)

      by coinreturn (617535) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @11:58AM (#45225331)

      How long before we hear calls to declare the whole EU as terrorist sympathisers? As more of this comes out, I hope others join the EU and we start looking at a embargo on sharing information with the US until it learns.

      I think Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Fox News are already doing that.

      • While MSNBC, CBS, and ABC are probably defending the NSA spying because criticizing it would tarnish Obama's godlike reputation.
  • by PPH (736903) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @09:58AM (#45223621)

    ... cut off the reciprocal data sharing agreements with EU authorities. The ones where their intelligence agencies can hoover up all financial data from any US organization associated with any EU citizen.

    • by jareth-0205 (525594) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @10:11AM (#45223789) Homepage

      ... cut off the reciprocal data sharing agreements with EU authorities. The ones where their intelligence agencies can hoover up all financial data from any US organization associated with any EU citizen.

      I think that's the issue (and why this sharing has been a bit controversial over here), is that those reciprocal agreements don't exist. The US have been given a view into EU data, and the same sharing doesn't come in the other direction. (whether it was sought... I don't know, but one-sided arrangements are troublesome in and of themselves)

      • by PPH (736903)

        That was sort of my point. I just forgot the <irony> tags.

        Industrial/financial espionage aside, the USA is instantiating a policy much the same as that of the Warsaw pact nations and the USSR following WWII. The next war, or terrorist activity, will be fought on EU territory as a buffer zone. Not in the USA. Unlike the World Wars, there is no physical 'front line'. But a logical one can be created by making an asymmetrical defensive barrier.

        I think the EU is starting to realize this. And they are no

  • Not hugely suprising (Score:4, Informative)

    by jareth-0205 (525594) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @09:59AM (#45223635) Homepage

    The TFTP was a pretty one-sided agreement, and it's therefore politically fragile and the first thing that's likely to be pulled when the trust in the USA's respect of EU data breaks down.

  • by barlevg (2111272) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @09:59AM (#45223649)
    The EU members won't share data with us that we want! If only one of our intelligence bureaus had a way to get data from other countries without their consent...
    • Re:Oh no! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gsslay (807818) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @10:10AM (#45223779)

      Seriously? The US is in the middle of seriously pissing off all its allies, and your response is simply "We don't care! We'll do what we want and you can't stop us!"

      And people use to wonder why the Middle Eastern countries hated America. This is Europe getting some of the same treatment.

      • by barlevg (2111272)
        My point was that telling a robber "You stole our TV, so now we're not going to invite you over to watch the game at our house" is a pretty funny response. If this gesture is accompanied by, say, installing a lock on the back door that you're confident the robber can't break, then that's another matter entirely.
        • by Xest (935314)

          Given that the whole reason this agreement was set up in the first place is because it was data the US felt it desperately needed and couldn't get then I think that lock is already there.

        • by gsslay (807818)

          Except this is not a robber stealing your TV. This is an invited guest who is supposed to be a friend.

          First thing you do is stop inviting them around your house.

      • middle eastern (what you really mean is muslim) countries hate ALL non-muslim nations. the US is just a proper subset of that.

        US spying is wrong and evil, but this has nothing to do with why the disagreement based on religion exists so strongly in the M.E.

        • by gsslay (807818)

          You've been taken in by the whole religious wrapping on what is essentially political\economic friction. It suits those in charge for people to believe it's about religion (even if they claim it isn't) because that way they won't look for the real reasons. Religion is just a convenient tool to manipulate/motivate/con the masses.

          The ones in charge are ultimately motivated by the same basic things that motivate everyone; ownership and access to resources. i.e. Money and power. If you want plenty of bot

      • Are you aware that Islamist terrorists have attacked London and Madrid more recently than the US?

        • by lxs (131946)

          So the Boston bombings were really only a failed attempt at beef Wellington? That explains the cookware involved!

      • Seriously? The US is in the middle of seriously pissing off all its allies, and your response is simply "We don't care! We'll do what we want and you can't stop us!"

        And people use to wonder why the Middle Eastern countries hated America. This is Europe getting some of the same treatment.

        Minus the bombs...

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      It costs more time and money to obtain the data covertly than overtly, time and money that would have to be redirected from other parts of the NSA's work.

  • Every child knows that if you abuse a privilege it gets taken away.
  • by lesincompetent (2836253) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @10:08AM (#45223759)
    That's THE LEAST that ought to be done.
  • by gmuslera (3436) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @10:25AM (#45223973) Homepage Journal
    Why Europe should honor US intellectual property if the US government is officially ignoring the intellectual property of all EU citizens, including the one of their leaders?
    • by cpghost (719344)
      Since when are leaders intellectuals, to have "intellectual property" in the first place?
      • by gmuslera (3436)
        Intellectual property is not about property of intellectuals, but of what your intellect creates, even if was just a phone conversation with a friend. You can't have both intellectual property and the right of spy on everyone, you are denying one doing the other.
  • Business as usual (Score:5, Interesting)

    by qbast (1265706) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @10:31AM (#45224047)
    From article "The vote is non-binding but illustrates MEPs' growing unease [...]" . So parliament showed right amount of outrage, won some brownie points among electorate and managed to do it without pissing off USA. Good job.
    • Re:Business as usual (Score:5, Informative)

      by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Thursday October 24, 2013 @11:02AM (#45224407) Homepage

      It's non-binding because the EU Parliament is not a real Parliament. It's very weak and has limited influence, the real power at the EU level is in the European Commission which is sort of like an executive branch that is directed by national governments. The EU Commission may still decide to ignore the Parliament on this one, but I guess that wouldn't do a great deal for their legitimacy, which is at any rate already heavily weakened after years of sustained attacks on their decision making ...

      • by qbast (1265706)
        Exactly. That's why EU Parliament is doing the posturing, not Commission. Because they can do it safely and Comission would be expected to actually do something.
  • Europe is a lot closer to, and has been more impacted by, terrorist strikes than the US. A reduction in data sharing will impact both sides of the Atlantic.

    Of course, MEPs aren't really -accountable- to anyone for their decisions, it's the European sovereign governments who will be left holding the bag if terrorist strikes increase.

    • by qbast (1265706)
      No, it does not cut both ways. TFTP is sharing data in one direction from Europe (SWIFT headquarter is in Belgium) to USA.
      • Why should the US share data with Europe, if Europe closes TFTP? That's my point (albeit perhaps not particularly well made.)

        • Re:Cuts both ways (Score:5, Informative)

          by qbast (1265706) on Thursday October 24, 2013 @11:19AM (#45224625)
          You don't seem to get it. TFTP is one direction only - there is no reciprocal program which gives EU authorities access to transactions within USA (at least nobody heard about one). So USA gets great amount of data particularly useful for industrial espionage (I am sure Boeing would just love to know how much money Airbus is getting, from where, how much it is paying subcontractors,etc.) and Europe gets nothing.
          • Well, until there's an Edward Snowden equivalent from UK, France, Germany, etc; I'm not sure I believe there are no reciprocal data sharing agreements.

  • "So we found out that even though we're giving you all that information for free, you're also spying on us and taking it secretly. That seems kind of redundant. It'd save money if we just let you steal the info yourself instead of handing it over."

  • The TFTP is being phased out in favor of FTP. Everyone is tracked financially, not just (presumed) terrorists.
  • I mean, it doesn't have any authentication or authorization methods at all. What's wrong with these Europeans? It's not my fault they didn't guard their router configs...

  • I see talk about trade sanctions and so on as a way for the EU to "punish" the US.

    Germany are leading the way in that regard. I work for a UK company with subsidiaries in Germany. We are looking at moving various services in the cloud (management's bright idea), including Office 365 and one of the cloud based authentication services to tie it all together.

    At the moment Germany are pretty much vetoing it. Nothing can be US hosted. That rules out Office 365 for email, anything running on AWS or Azure... unles

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