The EU’s Paradoxical Efforts at Tracking the Financing of Terrorism: From criticism to imitation of dataveillance

Wednesday, 14 August 2013
CEPS Commentaries
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In July 2011, the European Commission published a Communication aimed at setting out different options for establishing a European terrorist finance tracking system (TFTS). The Communication followed the adoption of the EU-US agreement on the US Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) in 2010. The agreement concluded various series of national, European and transatlantic negotiations after the disclosure through public media of the US TFTP in 2006. This paper takes stock of the wide range of controversies surrounding this security-focused programme with dataveillance capabilities. After stressing the impact of the US TFTP on international relations, the paper argues that the EU-US agreement primarily has the effect of shifting information-sharing practices from the justice/judicial/penal/criminal investigation framework into the security/intelligence/administrative/prevention context as the main rationale. The paper then questions the TFTP-related conception of mass intelligence through large-scale databases and transnational communication of bulk data in the name of targeted surveillance. Following an examination of the project creating an EU system equivalent to the TFTP, the paper emphasises the fundamental paradox of transatlantic security matters, in which European criticism of American programmes tends to be ultimately translated into EU imitation of US dataveillance practices.

Anthony Amicelle is Assistant Professor at the School of Criminology at the University of Montreal and the International Centre for Comparative Criminology (ICCC).