US bans Europol from releasing its own documents to European officials

US bans Europol from releasing its own documents to European officials
The United States has instructed Europol, the European Union’s police agency, to withhold its own annual internal data-protection review from EU lawmakers because the report was written without the US Treasury Department’s permission.

Europol drafted the data-protection report “without prior written authorisation from the information owner (in this case the Treasury Department),” according to the US, violating “security protocols” that could “undermine the relationship of trust needed to share sensitive information between enforcement agencies.”

The report, drafted by Europol’s Joint Supervisory Body, outlines how data concerning EU citizens and residents is transferred to the US, according to the EUobserver. The document is mainly known to monitor implementation of the EU-US Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, or TFTP. Basically, the US Treasury Department is quite territorial about how the TFTP is adhering to European data protection compliance.

EU ombudsman Emily O’Reilly said Europol refused to allow her to see the report based on US demands. O’Reilly then confronted US ambassador to the EU Anthony Gardner in July. Gardner confirmed the order.

On Thursday, O’Reilly said she sent a letter to the European Parliament asking the body “to consider whether it is acceptable that an agreement with a foreign government should prevent the Ombudsman from doing her job."

“If the US says ‘No disclosure’ then it won’t be disclosed, which is ridiculous because we are EU citizens, we vote, we pay taxes, we have EU laws, and we decide what happens on this continent. Nobody else,” Dutch MEP liberal Sophie In’t Veld told EUobserver. In’t Veld first requested the report in 2012.

In’t Veld said there is no top-secret information in the report that should be viewed as overly sensitive.

“There is no operational information, there is no intelligence, there is nothing in the document. So you really wonder why it is kept a secret,” she said.

The TFTP has received scrutiny in the last year after documents supplied by former US government contractor Edward Snowden showed mass spying by the US National Security Agency on citizens and officials across the world, including in the EU.

The Snowden leaks showed the NSA had gained a “back door” entrance into the SWIFT servers - SWIFT being a financial-record sharing program, which revealed the banking details of millions of European citizens, despite the fact that access to this financial data was limited by the TFTP.