Soon the Belgian company SWIFT will sign the 'Safe Harbour' agreement:
"SWIFT has chosen to join the "Safe Harbour". The Safe Harbour is a specific type of "Adequacy Decision" adopted by the Commission in order to allow the free flow of personal data between the EU and the US. It allows EU controllers to export personal data to US organisations that have joined the Safe Harbour, since the privacy principles it contains are recognized to afford the adequate protection required by the EU for international data transfers." (press release from European Commission, 29th of June 2007)
SWIFT is a Belgium-based company which operates a worldwide messaging system used to transmit, inter alia, bank transaction information. If you have ever transferred money to a foreign bank account you are probably familiar with the 'SWIFT code'; the series of digits that identify a given bank.
According to Danish Computerworld Online the American authorities have been allowed to store information for five years - and not the 40 years which were originally requested by the US. Signing 'Safe Harbour' will also oblige banks that use SWIFT's services to inform their customers of the possible transfer of data to the US.
"It remains unclear what would happen if a bank customer should decide that she does not want her information shared," the article ends.