Senior European and U.S. officials expressed confidence (Friday) they would be able to renew a key data sharing deal that experts say is crucial in thwarting terrorist attacks.
At a press conference in Madrid, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was cautiously upbeat that a deal would be struck relatively soon that would give Washington access to Europeans' financial records.
"There are issues that we will have to work through. I think we have committed to being creative in trying to craft solutions to the issues that still divide us," said Holder. "But I think what is important is that we are united in trying to ensure the safety of our people and to use all the tools that we possibly can," he added.
At issue is U.S. access to a database of international financial transfers that record customer names, account numbers and other identifying information. U.S. authorities say that under a previous agreement struck with the Europeans, this data was critical in helping avert terrorist attacks.
But a new deal ran afoul of European privacy concerns and the European Parliament blocked it in February.
European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said she was encouraged by the talks in Madrid on a new agreement.
"Fully protecting the personal data, fully understanding the concerns to have security and privacy on an equal footing and to provide jurisdictional address for our citizens," she said.
In particular, the Europeans want a provision that would allow their citizens the right to sue in American courts if they believe that personal data has been misused.