In the wake of the SWIFT privacy scandal, the European parliament will be debating the scandal, European data protection laws and broader issues of access to personal data. Should be interesting to watch:
theparliament.com - EU parliament debates personal data rules
EU parliament debates personal data rules
MEPs are this week expected to intensify pressure on the European commission to act over the controversial Swift case.
In November, an independent panel found that the Belgian-based money transfer company Swift had breached EU privacy laws by secretly giving personal financial data to the US authorities.
Swift denied breaking the law, saying it was subpoenaed to give limited data for use in the fight against terrorism.
On 31 January, in the first Brussels parliamentary plenary of the year, deputies will debate the issue of current personal data legislation and table a series of questions to the commission on the Swift case.
Included in the list of questions is a demand to know whether the commission is aware of any other requests to private companies to make their data available to the US.
MEPs also want to know what action the commission intends to take given that access to data handled by Swift makes it possible to get information on the economic activities of individuals and businesses.
The ongoing row involving Swift, which handles 11 million transactions a day, could further exacerbate tensions between the EU and the US over the use of personal flight data in the fight against terrorism.
The EU and US recently resolved a long-running dispute over the issue and is confident of reaching an agreement on passenger name records (PNR).
US negotiator Michael Chertoff and his EU counterpart Wolfgang Schauble said at the weekend that despite continued differences of opinion on the use of the personal data they were confident of reaching a deal by July.
Some MEPs, however, are currently raising concerns which they would like the commission to take on board when the executive alone negotiates a new agreement with the US.
The plenary, though, will be urged by British Conservative MEP Timothy Kirkhope to back the deal brokered by the EU and US.
"Some of these concerns are warranted but the most important thing to adopt are appropriate air safety and anti-terrorism measures and provide certainty for the airlines, while also ensuring that data protection norms are respected,” Kirkhope said.