Remember how the Germans were trying to delay agreement on a deal giving the US access to European bank data until there was time for a debate?

They caved.

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.

Critics say the system is “lopsided” because there is no reciprocal arrangement under which the UK authorities can easily access the bank accounts of US citizens in America.

They also say the plan to sift 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.


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”.

And yes, scribe told me so.

Of course, if you think the CIA is not also collecting such “general data sets” in the US, you’re nuts. We just get more details about it when it happens in Europe.



Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.