Concerns about privacy feature high on the EP agenda this week. On Monday evening, the civil liberties committee voted to strengthen EU data protection rules and to demand heavier fines for non-compliance. On Wednesday, the Parliament will have to take a stand on whether the EU-US agreement on the transfer of data handled by the SWIFT payment network should be suspended following allegations of internet surveillance by US authorities.
Under the SWIFT agreement, which was concluded in 2010, the EU provides the US with payment data of EU residents to help fight terrorism. After allegations surfaced that the NSA had been tapping personal financial data from SWIFT, the issue was discussed during a meeting of the civil liberties committee on 24 September and again during a plenary debate on 9 October.
The vote on Wednesday 23 October will be non-binding.
Civil liberties committee vote
The vote by the civil liberties committee on Monday evening sets out the Parliament's mandate for negotiations with member states on the overhaul of the EU data protection legislation to give people more control over their personal data.
Improvements include internet users having the right to have their data erased on request and being asked for their explicit consent before a company or organisation can process their data. Sanctions for breaching the rules should be increased to €100 million or 5% of companies' annual turnover. In addition, if a country outside the EU asks another firm to disclose personal information collected in the EU, it should first seek the authorisation from national data protection authorities.