Friday, February 12, 2010

A Tale of Two Weasels

A bilateral EU-US agreement to comb through SWIFT clearinghouse financial transaction data to look for tell-tale signs of imminent terror attacks has been indignantly shot down again on the basis that Europeans are protecting the privacy of European citizens along with the privacy of terrorists.

As usual, the favored soundbites have a neo-soviet ring to them along with the omnipresent rustling of a straw-man in the background.

"The US Administration may have wrongly thought they could deal with the European Parliament like Gulliver with the Lilliputians. Under the Swedish Presidency, European governments and the Council also made a mistake to believe it would be possible to force the European Parliament to give its consent on an unacceptable agreement based more on the US approach to security than on the EU's defence of citizens' fundamental rights."
Too bad he's unfamilar enough with the story to undertand that the Liliputians were a metaphor for the small-minded and pedestrian who manage nonetheless to chain down Gulliver. Perhaps he thought that this was making some complex literary reference to the Smurfs and Garagamel.

It's also hard to believe in the American-malevolence angle vis-a-vis the Swedish EU presidency given that this issue has been voted on before and kicked around since 2003.

In that same spirit, the German Federal government will be conscenting to a German State government buying stolen personal data in order to violate the privacy of individuals' financial transaction:
But now we know — in case there was ever any doubt — that the whole German hue and cry about the Rechtsstaat [ed.: a self=aggrandizing name for a nation dedicated to rights] was never serious anyway. Thus, last week, the German government announced that, in the name of combating tax evasion, it was going to purchase personal account data stolen from Swiss banks. German authorities will reportedly pay the data thief some €2.5 million. The purchase will be made by the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia, with the federal government’s blessing. With the help of the stolen data, authorities hope to be able to recover up to €400 million in lost tax revenues according to the latest estimates. (The latter have been notably inflated by a factor of four as compared to the initial reports.)
However, to quote a German Green politician nodding along with our Liliputian lionizing Socialist looking for love in all the wrong places:
Today will be remembered as an important day for democracy in the EU.
Heady days, indeed in the state dedicated to and right that sounds kind of heroic.
This is not the first time that German authorities have purchased stolen bank data in the name of combating tax evasion. In early 2008, it was revealed that Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, the BND, had purchased data stolen from the Liechtenstein-based LGT Bank to the same end. Not only did the BND pay over €4 million for the stolen data. It is also reported to have provided the presumed thief, Heinrich Kieber, with a new identity to boot!

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