EU to share passenger data with US

2012-03-27 20:05

Brussels - A key European Parliament panel backed on Tuesday a controversial agreement requiring airlines to transfer the personal data of passengers to US authorities, despite privacy fears in Europe.

The pact, if adopted by the full parliament next month, would replace a 2007 deal that has allowed the United States to receive information such as passenger names, credit card numbers and addresses for its anti-terrorism activities.

The new deal endorsed by the parliament's civil liberties committee, in a 31-22 vote, would allow the use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data to prevent, investigate and prosecute terrorism and as well as transnational crimes.

Euro MP Sophie in 't Veld, the parliament's lead lawmaker on the bill, opposed the legislation and accused the United States of threatening to suspend visa-free travel for Europeans if the deal was rejected.

"Many colleagues - understandably - did not want to make this sacrifice. But it is highly regrettable that the fundamental rights of EU citizens have been bargained away under pressure," the Dutch liberal lawmaker said.

The United States has credited PNR data as a valuable tool in terror investigations, including on suspects in the 2010 Times Square bomb and the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

But Washington and the European Commission were forced to negotiate a new PNR agreement after the European Parliament refused to vote for the old deal in May 2010.

While the EU is debating whether to create its own PNR system for flights into and out of Europe, some officials and lawmakers criticise it as an intrusion into the privacy and civil liberties of citizens.

In 't Veld warned that the deal could give the United States leeway to use PNR data for other purposes, including immigration checks or public health.

Security partnership

The European Parliament's conservative groups backed the US deal in the committee vote, while liberals, greens and communists rejected it. The socialist bloc was divided.

"The importance of PNR data for our security cannot be underestimated. This agreement secures passengers' rights and safety, and it cements the crucial EU-USA security partnership," said Timothy Kirkhope, a British conservative MEP.

The new deal would allow the United States to sift through PNR data for 15 years for terrorism-related investigations. After that period the information must be deleted.

Under the deal, the personal data of a passenger sent to US authorities would become "anonymous" after six months, meaning that the person's name and contact information would be masked out but available in case of an inquiry.

The data would remain in an "active" database easily accessible to US officials for five years, and then move to a "dormant" database where stricter conditions for access would apply for the remaining 10 years.

The EU sealed a PNR deal with Australia last year that will allow Australia authorities to store the passenger data for five and half years, and another deal is being negotiated with Canada.

Read more on:    eu  |  us  |  europe  |  security  |  air travel

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36 publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Prince George the green prince?

Prince Charles hopes his grandson's love of the outdoors will become a passion for the environment.



One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa
China's air pollution at doomsday levels
Keep food fresher for longer
Hurricanes, earthquakes and floods – What climate change really means for us

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly


The full moon energy can be quite intense today as your emotions fight against reason. It is important to ground your ideas more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.