Monday, October 09, 2006

Piggy in the middle

On the opening day of the Sibos conference in Sydney, SWIFT CEO Leonard Schrank joked that he never thought he would see SWIFT make the front pages of international newspapers following recent disclosures that it had allowed US intelligence agencies to monitor financial transactions on its network.

Privacy organisations have taken SWIFT to task for its decision to allow intelligence agencies access to transactions on its network, and privacy investigations are underway in at least three countries include Belgium where SWIFT is headquartered.

When asked if he would have done things differently if he had the time over again, Schrank said that SWIFT was caught in the middle. "It was not SWIFT's fault," he said, adding that it had no other choice but to comply with the monitoring, which was "compulsory".

Schrank said there is a global framework for disease control but not one for privacy issues. "[Privacy] is a global issue and SWIFT is a global company." He joined European Central Bank President Jean Claude-Trichet in calling for a global privacy framework governing financial data.

The question remains though before granting the intelligence agencies access to transactions on its network, should SWIFT have informed its member banks, which total 8000, or at least the Top 100 banks on its network?

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