Challenges to Information Sharing: Perceptions and Realities

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This paper considers ‘the art of the possible’ in the field of information sharing, identifying genuine barriers where they exist, and considering how changes to legislation could be made that enable not more, but better information sharing to increase the effectiveness of current approaches to tackling terrorist financing and financial crime.

Like clockwork, following each and every terrorist attack that has occurred in recent times, global leaders call for greater information sharing to counter the threat of terrorists and their financing. Strategies to tackle money laundering, such as that recently announced in the UK, are built upon the belief that greater information sharing is the means by which nations can achieve a step-change in the fight against financial crime, and the financial sector continuously demands feedback and guidance from the authorities in order to meet the financial crime identification and disruption challenges that are put upon them. Information sharing is viewed almost universally as the critical determinant of success.

Yet the meaningful and effective sharing of information remains elusive. Privacy and data protection concerns prevail; regulation is poorly understood; and banks’ policies and procedures often place client confidentiality and discretion at the heart of business strategy. Balancing these two competing positions continues to vex policy-makers and practitioners alike.

This latest paper from RUSI’s Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies seeks to unpack the perceptions and realities of information sharing, identifying where such exchanges are, for example, permitted in the name of security; how legislation can enhance the ability of information to be shared on an effective basis, including between private sector entities; how guidance from national authorities can improve the quality of information provided by the private sector to the public sector; and how the concepts of necessity and proportionality should govern decision-making, balancing a heightened focus on security with continued data protection and privacy.


Inês Sofia de Oliveira

Associate Fellow, Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies

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