CIA to access British bank accounts.

Posted: December 9, 2009 in Broken Britain

The CIA is to be given broad access to the bank records of millions of Britons by the European Union.

IlieThe Brussels agreement, which will come into force in two months time, requires the 27 EU member states to grant requests for banking information made by the United States under its terrorist finance tracking programme.

In a little noticed information note released last week, the EU said it had agreed that Europeans would be compelled to release the information to the CIA “as a matter of urgency”. The records will be kept in a US database for five years before being deleted. Who checks that they are deleted?

There is no reciprocal arrangement under which the UK authorities can easily access the bank accounts of US citizens in America. ‘Do as we tell you not what we do’ comes to mind. The plan to trawl through cross-border and domestic EU bank accounts gives US intelligence more scope to consult our bank accounts than is granted to law enforcement agencies in the UK or the rest of Europe.

In Britain and most of Europe a judge must authorise a specific search after receiving a sworn statement from a police officer.

The terrorist finance tracking programme mines thousands of transactions by sifting through records from the nerve centre of the global banking industry, a Belgian co-operative known as Swift.

This routes about £3 billion between banks and other financial institutions each day. According to the EU information note, the United States can request “general data sets” under the scheme based on broad categories including “relevant message types, geography and perceived terrorism threats”.

To recap, one wrong word on the mobile or in an email and CIA can have a look at your bank accounts.

The scheme is run out of the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia. The covert spying operation remained secret until 2006.

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