23 Jul 2019
The European Commission on Monday formally reapproved a US-EU initiative that permits investigators of terrorism to obtain financial records from participating nations.
In its fifth review of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP), the commission said that information provided to it by American authorities, Europol, independent overseers and other parties, as well as its own evaluation, indicated that the once controversial initiative had been implemented according to security and data protection standards.
First implemented in 2010 following reports that US terrorism investigators had obtained financial data on European bank accountholders without their consent or knowledge, the TFTP is intended to serve as closely monitored conduit for the exchange of information on terrorist financing while also ensuring compliance with privacy laws.
On Monday, the commission advised the US Treasury Department and EU member states to take steps that could further limit the quantity, and improve the quality, of information shared through the program, including by assessing which types of requests to which nations are most or least likely to result in useful responses.
The commission also called on US officials to review how they determine when extracted data should be retained or deleted, as part of an effort to ensure that the information is kept only as long as necessary.
EU member-states should also provide regular feedback to Europol on their participation in the program, including by notifying the agency when cases have been closed and relevant data can be deleted, according to the commission’s review, which covers the period from January 2016 to November 2018.
The European Commission also praised the program for helping investigators identify and track terrorists.
The TFTP “has become an increasingly important tool with the increase in the number of terrorist attacks since 2015,” the commission said. “In some cases, the information provided under the agreement has been instrumental in bringing forward specific investigations relating to terrorist attacks on EU soil.”
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