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Terrorist finance tracking: citizen's safeguards are in place
More than two years after its entry into force, the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) and its safeguards have been properly put in place. This is the outcome of the second EU-US review of the implementation of the TFTP, carried out for the period from 1 February 2011 until 30 September 2012.
"I welcome this assessment, as it gives a comprehensive and realistic picture of how this system for tracking terrorist finances works. These regular assessments ensure that the safeguards for EU citizens' privacy and data protection are in place. This is paramount to build trust in a system that gives us greater security ", said Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström.
Recently the Commission presented the report to the European Parliament and the Council in view of discussing its main findings.
The review confirmed the clear added value of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme in fighting and preventing terrorism, with the EU increasingly benefitting from it. The programme also continues to be well protected and managed in accordance with a set of effective safeguards.
A particularly striking example in the review is the Breivik case in Norway. There, TFTP-based information helped Norwegian and other European investigators including Europol to, within hours, identify the channels through which Breivik collected and moved the funds used for the preparation of his vicious attacks. Moreover, based on the TFTP data collected in the Breivik case, Finnish authorities were able to arrest a person pursuing similar terrorist objectives before he was able to put them into practice. The report also highlights other examples of cases in which TFTP has provided key leads.
Recommendations presented in the first report of 2011 have to a large extent been followed up, thus improving the implementation of the agreement. In particular, significant further improvements have been carried out, especially of the verification and oversight functions, including with a reinforcement of the team of the overseer. In part, these functions go beyond what is required in the agreement.
However, the EU review team pointed out that the on-going process of deleting data older than 5 years (Article 6) is an issue that requires further monitoring. The Commission will address this issue in a joint evaluation report about the value of TFTP provided data in the fight against terrorism, which is due in 2013.
In a joint effort with US representatives, the second report examined a much longer period of application (20 months) which allowed a deeper insight into the functioning of the TFTP. Three Commission officials and two data protection experts formed part of the EU review team, as well as a judicial expert from Eurojust.
The TFTP agreement between the European Union and the United States came into force on 1 August 2010.
It concerns the transfer and processing of data for purposes of identifying, tracking and pursuing terrorists and their networks. The agreement contains guarantees that ensure protection of EU citizens' data and foresees a regular review of "the safeguards, controls, and reciprocity provisions”.
In accordance with Article 13, the first joint review took place in early 2011 (IP/11/324).
The next joint review of the TFTP will be carried out in 2014.
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