Saturday, October 07, 2006

EU and US reach deal on passenger data

Last month we reported on a looming crisis over a disagreement between the European Union (EU) and the U.S. regarding the sharing of passenger data for security purposes. According to an Associated Press article published on the Airport Business website and elsewhere, the two sides now have reached an agreement on this issue.
The agreement is valid until July 2007, after which the EU and the U.S. plan to have a permanent accord.

The 25 EU governments are expected to give final approval to the interim deal next week.

EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini welcomed it, saying the United States and the EU will employ "comparable standards of data protection."

He said the deal defuses fears in the European Parliament of a loss of privacy for Europeans flying to the United States.

Under the agreement, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security no longer will have an automatic right to pull data from European airlines' computer systems, but must ask for such information.

Its U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency may disclose passenger data to other American law enforcement agencies only if "they have comparable standards of data protection," Frattini told reporters. He said it cannot give them direct electronic access to the data and limits the duration of its storage.

EU negotiator Jonathan Faull said the EU and the U.S. aim for a "broader" data-sharing deal after July 2007 that would provide for sharing of more data than the 34 details listed under the deal reached Friday.

British Home Secretary John Reid called the interim agreement "another major step in the fight against terrorism (showing that) the common alliance against terrorism is, on both sides of the Atlantic, very strong."

French Justice Minister Pascal Clement said the Europeans '"got concrete guarantees with respect to" privacy protection for EU nationals.


The new agreement lets airlines continue to legally submit 34 pieces of data - such as passenger names, addresses, seat number, credit card and travel details as well as their no-show records - for transfer to U.S. authorities within 15 minutes of a flight's departure for the United States.
Source: EU, U.S. Reach Deal on Sharing Passenger Data - Airport Business

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