The personal data of millions of passengers who fly between the US and Europe, including credit card details, phone numbers and home addresses, may be stored by the US department of homeland security for 15 years, according to a draft agreement between Washington and Brussels leaked to the Guardian.
The “restricted” draft, which emerged from negotiations between the US and EU, opens the way for passenger data provided to airlines on check-in to be analysed by US automated data-mining and profiling programmes in the name of fighting terrorism, crime and illegal migration. The Americans want to require airlines to supply passenger lists as near complete as possible 96 hours before takeoff, so names can be checked against terrorist and immigration watchlists.
The agreement acknowledges that there will be occasions when people are delayed or prevented from flying because they are wrongly identified as a threat, and gives them the right to petition for judicial review in the US federal court. Well, isn’t that special?
The 15-year retention period is likely to prove highly controversial as it is three times the five years allowed for in the EU’s PNR (passenger name record) regime to cover flights into, out of and within Europe. A period of five and a half years has just been negotiated in a similar agreement with Australia. Germany and France raised concerns this week about the agreement and the unproven necessity for the measure.
Britain has already announced its intention to opt in to the European PNR plan, in which the home secretary, Theresa May, played a key role, and is expected to join the US agreement this summer…
The US Senate passed a resolution last week saying it “simply could not accept” any watering down by European ministers of data-sharing, describing it as “an important part of our layered defences against terrorism”. Senators said it was an important tool in the security agencies’ “identifying possible threats before they arrive in our country”.
But the European parliament, which would have to approve it, has demanded proof that such a PNR agreement is necessary, and said it should in no circumstances be used for data-mining or profiling…
This draft agreement appears to give the Americans all they have asked for…
The data to be collected includes 19 separate items relating to each airline passenger, including their billing details, contact numbers, the names of those they are travelling with and how much baggage they have, as well their itinerary.
Well, we certainly are assured our government cares enough about our safety and security that they are willing to keep an eye on us for years and years. I feel safer, now. Don’t you?