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EU data watchdog flags rights problems with US air passenger data deal

[JURIST] The European Data Protection Supervisor [official website], the European Union's data watchdog official, on Monday condemned a now-voided agreement [BBC Q/A] between the EU and the US forcing European airlines to share passenger data with US authorities for transatlantic flights, saying it lacked sufficient rights safeguards. Peter Hustinx said in a press conference [press release, PDF] that a new passenger data agreement must have "sufficient legal data protection" with several provisions binding the US, warning that anti-terror measures are not sufficient to justify the amount of data the US wants European airlines to provide. The current deal, which took effect in 2004 and will expire at the end of September under a European Court of Justice order [JURIST report], requires European airlines to provide passenger name records to US authorities shortly after a transatlantic flight departs Europe, including names, addresses, credit card information, and itinerary details.

The US has argued for more extensive data sharing [JURIST report] because the current agreement does not allow US customs officials to share the information they receive from European airlines with other US agencies. Hustinx, however, said that even the current agreement fails to provide adequate safeguards for EU citizens. EU and US officials are struggling to agree on terms for the new agreement [Reuters report], which must be in place by September 30. DPA has more.

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