Feeds

US authorities had free rein over world's bank data

Article 29 working party tackle SWIFT

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The way in which international business operates its IT infrastructure has given the US government unprecedented power to view international financial records.

Swift has an unspecified number of data centres around the world, each one storing every one of the 11 million transactions it handles on a daily basis, being mirrors of one another as backup in the event of one of them failing. This means that a US subpoena of records kept in Swift's US data centre will gain access to financial transactions made in over 200 countries.

In testimony before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on 11 July, Stuart Levey, under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the US Treasury said no-one would have known about this programme (called the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme) if details had not been leaked to the US papers.

He said secrecy was one of the programme's strengths. But Republicans have complained that even Congress was not aware of what was going on.

The Washington Post likened the programme to the National Security Agency's mass surveillance of international telephone and Internet communications without a warrant, which was recently found by a US judge to be illegal. It said the US government was also building "unprecedented" government databases of private transactions of people unrelated to terrorism.

Levey also said Swift did not supply it with individual bank account information.

This is not strictly true. According to Swift, each of the "messages" on its database is a record of a financial transaction. When the Treasury investigators get inside the encrypted electronic envelopes they get to see the individual bank account details of the payer and the beneficiary, including the amount being transferred.®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Online tat bazaar eBay coughs to YET ANOTHER outage
Web-based flea market struck dumb by size and scale of fail
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.