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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06DUBLIN1396 2006-12-08 18:02:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Dublin
Cable title:  

NEXT STEPS ON TFTP: IRELAND TAKES HARD LINE ON

Tags:   EFIN KTFN PGOV PREL EI 
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VZCZCXRO0601
OO RUEHAG RUEHROV
DE RUEHDL #1396/01 3421802
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O 081802Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY DUBLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7762
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEATRS/TREASURY WASHDC IMMEDIATE
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES IMMEDIATE
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					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DUBLIN 001396 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

TREASURY FOR JACOBSON AND FREIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/31/2015
TAGS: EFIN KTFN PGOV PREL EI
SUBJECT: NEXT STEPS ON TFTP: IRELAND TAKES HARD LINE ON
SWIFT

REF: A. STATE 194473

B. TREASURY-EU MEMBER STATE POSTS TELCON OF
DECEMBER 6

C. YOUNG-BLANK ET AL E-MAIL OF SEPTEMBER 25

D. STATE 103650

E. STATE 184417

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Jonathan Benton; Reasons 1.4 (B)
and (D).



1. (C) Summary: Ireland's Data Protection Commission and
Department of Finance have taken a hard line in support of
the Article 29 Report criticizing financial data transfers
under the SWIFT program. Both the Commission and the
Department support U.S.-EU cooperation on tracking terrorism
finance, but they believe that such cooperation should
proceed on the basis of a negotiated U.S.-EU agreement on
data sharing that respects EU and domestic Irish legislation.
In planned discussions with the Irish Department of Justice,
Post intends to underscore the importance of balance between
data privacy and national security, thought it will be
difficult for any Irish authorities to take a position
appearing to contradict the Data Protection Commission. End
summary.

The Irish Data Commissioner's Hard Line


--------------------------





2. (C) Ireland's Data Protection Commission fully endorsed
the November 22 Article 29 Working Party report on SWIFT and
had written to Irish financial institutions about EU concerns
outlined in the report, Data Protection Commissioner William
Hawkes told Pol/Econ Chief on December 8. Hawkes noted that
he had also communicated his view to the Department of
Finance that SWIFT's actions had breached EU and domestic
Irish financial legislation. He explained that the SWIFT
issue had placed him in "real difficulty," since he was one
of the EU data protection commissioners most favorably
disposed to the USG, as evident in his participation in
exchanges on the Safe Harbor initiative. (Comment: In fact,
Hawkes has been pro-active with the Embassy on data
protection issues, calling on Pol/Econ Chief before the
December 2005 Safe Harbor seminar in Washington and sharing
Irish views on the recent U.S.-EU PNR negotiations, per ref
C.) Pol/Econ Chief emphasized ref A and B points on the
importance of balance between privacy concerns and national
security, but Hawkes responded that those points were moot,
adding that there was no issue as to Ireland's and the EU's
commitment to work with the United States to track terrorist
financing.



3. (C) Hawkes observed that the USG, having flouted EU law
with a unilateral approach to data transfer through SWIFT,
should make a gesture toward the EU by initiating dialogue on
a possible U.S.-EU agreement on bank data sharing, not unlike
the U.S.-EU PNR arrangements. Pol/Econ Chief replied that
the USG did not see the need for an overarching agreement
with the EU on the SWIFT program, and he also cited helpful
steps by SWIFT to draft "informed consent" language to ensure
full compliance with the EU Data Privacy Directive. Hawkes
said that he questioned the acceptability of the "informed
consent" approach, as bank customers would have no choice to
comply if they wished to conduct a financial transaction.
(Comment: Hawkes' press statement on the Article 29 report
can be found at www.dataprotection.ie, under "data protection
news.")

The Department of Finance Agrees


--------------------------





4. (C) The Irish Department of Finance accepted the Data
Protection Commission's view that the USG had breached Irish
and EU law on data privacy, Pol/Econ Chief was told by Paddy
Howard, Department of Finance Assistant Principal Officer for
Banking Affairs, on December 8. Howard, who had separately
discussed the Article 29 report and ref A points with
Commissioner Hawkes, said that Ireland strongly supported
trans-Atlantic cooperation on tracking terrorist financing.
He cautioned, however, that such cooperation could only
proceed on the basis of respect for Ireland's laws and
regulatory regime for data protection. Howard observed that
ref A points and the information that Post had provided in
June on the SWIFT program (per ref D) had seemingly
emphasized SWIFT's compliance with U.S. law, while neglecting
consideration of EU regulations. "We have no doubt that U.S.
authorities are not abusing this information," explained
Howard, "but we cannot excuse our regulatory regime from its

DUBLIN 00001396 002 OF 002


legislative duty." He agreed with Commissioner Hawkes that
U.S.-EU dialogue on a data-sharing agreement was necessary
and that SWIFT's initiative on "informed consent" was
insufficient to allay EU concerns.



5. (C) Comment: Post is attempting to schedule meetings with
the Irish Department of Justice, including with Justice
Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McDowell, to
underscore the national security dimensions of financial data
transfer. We note, however, that it will be difficult at
this point for any Irish ministry to take a position that
might be seen to contradict Commissioner Hawkes' public
pronouncement on the issue. Post strongly recommends that
any USG data protection delegation that might plan to visit
EU Member States in early 2007, per ref E, consider stopping
in Dublin.
FOLEY