Turning banks into cops? Private actors in the front line of security

In cooperation with the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

22sep2016 17:00 - 18:30


In recent years, security authorities on both sides of the Atlantic have increasingly sought access to commercial data of banks, social media and airlines. This involves new forms of data-exchange, not just between the EU and the US, but also between private and public spheres. What does it mean if private actors (such as banks) take on a security role? What are their responsibilities and challenges? Are we turning banks into cops? With Lia van Broekhoven, Rocco Bellanova, Michelle Frasher, Nathanael Ali and Liat Shetret.

New forms of public-private data-exchange in the name of security and counter-terrorism have taken shape in recent years. These are perhaps furthest advanced in the banking sector, because financial intelligence is considered to be particularly valuable in the context of the war on terror. However, financial institutions find themselves in a complex regulatory landscape, where the regulators’ demands concerning security and privacy are in tension. In some controversial cases, banks have decided to bar certain client groups altogether, a practice known as ‘derisking’. What happens when private companies are being authorised to take security decisions? How do new security requirements challenge, stretch and clash with legal frameworks on privacy and data protection? Are there tensions between security and commercial interests? 

Bringing together public and private sector professionals, this afternoon session will discuss the consequences of ‘turning banks into cops’. Issues including EU-US cooperation in fighting terrorism and public-private data exchange and its consequences will be debated by a panel of experts

About the speakers

Lia van Broekhoven is co-founder and director of Human Security Collective (HSC). Together with other nonprofits, HSC spearheads a Global NPO Coalition that engages with the Financial Action Task Force, the EU, UN counter terrorism entities, the World Bank, national governments and the private sector to ensure an effective and civil liberties informed implementation of global standards that aim to regulate nonprofits to prevent their abuse for terrorism financing and money laundering. HSC set up an online platform for outreach and information sharing on these issues. 

Rocco Bellanova is Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute Oslo. He has completed a PhD on the powers and politics of data protection, in particular in relation to the deployment of security technologies. Currently, his overall research interest is to investigate the implications and effects of ‘governing (through) data’ in the production of the social, so to ground a critical reading of data governmentality on an empirical study of practices of social control and knowledge generation.

Michelle Frasher is an expert transatlantic monetary relations and the politics of US-EU financial data transfers. Her work on anti-money laundering and data privacy was published widely. She is the author of Transatlantic Politics and the Transformation of the International Monetary System (Routledge 2014). Frasher was a Fulbright-Schuman Scholar in Belgium and Malta in 2014, a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the European Commission, where she researched US-EU financial data-sharing in counter-terrorism operations, and she was a visiting fellow with the European Union Center at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Nathanael Ali is an Ethiopian lecturer and post-doctoral researcher in public international law at Erasmus University Rotterdam and a visiting scholar at Queen Mary University of London. Ali's main research interest lies on the intersection of global security governance and economic injustice. Ali has had brief stints as a criminal law practitioner and news reporter. 

Liat Shetret (moderator) is a Senior Fellow at the Global Center on Cooperative Security and is the former Director of its New York office. 


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