The SWIFT Affair and the Global Politics of European Security

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Series Details Vol.50, No.2, March 2012, p214-230
Publication Date March 2012
ISSN 0021-9886
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This article examines the ‘SWIFT affair’, whereby United States security authorities acquired access to financial data of European citizens, and argues that it is a powerful lens through which to understand current shifts in European security governing. The affair demonstrates the institutional challenges produced by the deployment of private, commercial data for security, and analyzes the ad hoc innovations produced in European Union (EU) governing as a result.

Furthermore, the SWIFT affair has allowed the EU to position itself in the global security landscape as a normative power that promotes the values of privacy and data protection. However, the development of a European Terrorism Financing Tracking System, coupled with the way in which the EU itself is keenly implementing risk-based and data-led internal security measures, means that critical attention to the EU's own security practices remains urgent.

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