EU-US deal on passenger name records?

A leaked copy of the latest draft of a proposed “Agreement between the United States of America and the European Union on the use transfer of Passenger Name Record [PNR] data to the United States Department of Homeland Security” has been published by the civil liberties watchdog and investigative reporting group Statewatch.

So reports Ian Parker-Joseph:

Some people and groups who ought to know better, including lobbyist and former DHS Assistant Secretary for Policy Stewart Baker — the principal architect of an earlier US-EU “agreement” on PNR data — and the Heritage Foundation, have suggested that for the European Parliament not to ratify whatever the Commission and Council or pose would be to “renege” on their agreement with the US. That’s nonsense, obviously. The European Parliament has no more obligation to ratify treaties proposed by the European executive than the U.S. Senate is obligated to ratify every treaty proposed by the President.

With the impossibility of making this binding either over there or over here, various anomalies naturally arise, e.g.

  • The draft “agreement” claims that, “DHS processes and uses PNR data … in compliance with safeguards on privacy and protection of personal data and information.” There is no basis for such a claim. The DHS has exempted its PNR database from the protections of the Privacy Act, even for U.S. citizens. No privacy or data protection laws apply to PNR data held by the DHS.

  • The draft “agreement” claims that “the United States insures that passengers whose PNR is collected by DHS are made aware of the … use of their PNR.” In fact, the only U.S. law that requires any accounting of disclosures of personal data is the Privacy Act. The Privacy Act applies only to U.S. citizens and residents, and the DHS has exempted its PNR database from the Privacy Act requirement for an accounting of disclosures, even when it is requested by a U.S. citizen.

  • As Ian concludes:

    The only entities which have anything to gain from this agreement are (a) travel companies whose current activities are in violation of EU laws, and (b) enforcement authorities in the EU (including national data protection authorities and the European Commission as enforcer of the Code of Conduct for CRSs) who don’t want to carry out their current responsibility to enforce EU law, to cut off U.S. access to PNR data collected in the EU, and to impose sanctions on the travel companies that are transferrring PNR data to the U.S.

    Read the whole thing.

    6 comments for “EU-US deal on passenger name records?

    1. ivan
      June 1, 2011 at 10:22 am

      Many years ago I went to the US on business and they demanded that I pay to leave. I said then I would never go there again and haven’t. This handing over of personal information to the ‘land of the free’ should be met with everyone refusing to go there – problem solved privacy maintained.

      • June 1, 2011 at 10:45 am

        Yes I have no intention of travelling there again. I know many Americans and like them but as for going through that bottleneck to get there – no thanks.

    2. David
      June 1, 2011 at 1:13 pm

      I have stopped travelling abroad. Starve the beast and spend your money – if you have to – on small businesses in England.

    3. June 1, 2011 at 6:32 pm

      To understand this in the best perspective, remember the reason why this occurs: terrorism.

      In 1993, I stood about 100 feet from the bomb blast in the World Trade Center. The man 20 feet form me lay in a pool of his own blood, his ashen appearance indicated life had left him. People lay atop and within the pile of debris by the turnstiles.

      On the other side of this, we know who commits most of these acts of terror. Nevertheless, the government elites cry that we must be tolerant and politically correct and screw with everyone, even those people not likely to fly planes into buildings or detonate suicide vests.

      • June 2, 2011 at 5:40 am

        An end to useless screening and a return to profiling would ease a lot of that bottleneck that James mentions. But it’d take political courage from the top, middle and bottom.

        • Bollixed
          June 4, 2011 at 4:50 am

          Germans seem to be all for it.

          Be careful using the ‘Terrorist’ word. Like the ‘Racist’ and ‘Fascist’ words it is being abused in meaning to include anyone that the righteous don’t like for even the most minor of instances to keep us obedient sheep – and to suppress our freedoms.

          Here’s one. Was William Wallace a terrorist or a freedom fighter? What was Robin Hood? ❓

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