Friday, August 24, 2012

Swiss Data Protection Commissioner Enters the Fray Over Employee Data Turnover to U.S. (8/24/12)

A recent article describes the entry by the Swiss data protection commissioner into the fray about the data turnover to the U.S. of bank employee information.  Matthew Allen, Data protection watchdog supports bank staff ( 8/22/12), here.

Excerpts from the article (emphasis supplied by JAT):
Hanspeter Thür has written to several banks to determine what data has already been transferred to the US Department of Justice and how they justified including telephone numbers and written correspondence. 
“We have informed them that we are opening an analysis to verify the legality of the data transmitted to the US,” Thür told the Tages Anzeiger on Wednesday. “Until we have the results, we have demanded that no further bank employee data be sent to the US.” 
* * * * 
Several bank staff have complained that this has left them open to criminal prosecution for aiding and abetting tax evasion. Even employees that had nothing to do with advising clients are too fearful of travelling abroad in case they get extradited to the US. 
* * * * 
“We assumed that our concerns would be taken into account,” Thür said. “But last week we received information that HSBC had sent a second batch of bank employee data to the US.” 
“I have grave doubts whether the publication of bank employee data was legal.” 
Thür threatened legal action against banks that fail to comply with his demands for information. 
Defending the government's April decision to allow the data transfer, Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf told the Tribune de Genève newspaper it was the only way to avoid "destroying workplaces"
"What was the alternative?" she said in the interview. "What would have happened had we forbidden the banks from cooperating and left them with no means to defend themselves against this procedure?"

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