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Members of the European Parliament have condemned the first six months of data sharing with US terror spooks as an abject failure of data protection.

The SWIFT agreement gives US authorities access to Europeans' banking information, but MEPs were told that in the first six months of operation data requests were so abstract it was impossible to tell if they complied with data protection rules or not.

The MEPs said Europol's rubber stamping of data requests was a betrayal of promises made last year.

Sophia in 't Veld, a Dutch MEP and rapporteur on the US-EU Passenger Name Record agreement, said: "We have given our trust to the other EU institutions, but our trust has been betrayed. This should be kept in mind when they want our approval for other agreements."

Lib Dem MEP for London Sarah Ludford said putting Europol in charge of data exchanges was like putting a fox in charge of the chicken coop.

The MEPs were examining the first six months under the new programme which saw four data requests go through.

These requests were so abstract it was not possible to tell if they complied with the agreement. Europol said it had received extra information orally from US spooks, which persuaded them to hand over the information.

But we don't know what these whispers were, so there's no way of knowing if the requests followed the rules set out in the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) Agreement.

The MEPs statement of SWIFT is here. ®

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