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US now requiring passenger data before flights leave Britain

[JURIST] The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) [official website] is now requiring passenger data to be sent to US authorities before flights leave Britain [JURIST news archive] for the United States in the wake of last week's arrests for an alleged plot to blow up transatlantic flights [JURIST report], notwithstanding obstacles posed by European privacy laws. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff [official profile] was quoted in Monday's New York Times as saying that he hopes the plot serves as a "wake-up call" convincing airline executives and European officials that the changes should become permanent. Until last Thursday, the passenger data was provided 15 minutes after UK-to-US flights took off, which allowed the flights to be turned around if a suspected terrorist was on board but could not prevent mid-air attacks like those that authorities believe were in the works.

In June, European Union diplomats said they would draft a new agreement [JURIST report] that compels European airlines to disclose information about passengers flying from Europe to the US, projecting that it would be finished by October 1. A similar 2004 agreement was struck down by the European Court of Justice [JURIST report] because the passenger name records deal did not have an appropriate legal basis. The new agreement is to be based on security and organized-crime laws. The New York Times has more.

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