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US, EU reach interim agreement on airline passenger data-sharing

[JURIST] US and European diplomats have reached an interim agreement on new trans-Atlantic airline passenger data-sharing policies [JURIST news archive]. Under the new regulations, airlines must continue to share 34 pieces of passenger data, including passenger names, addresses and credit card information within 15 minutes of a plane's departure to the US. A number of US counter-terrorism agencies will be able to access the passenger data, but in a press conference Friday, EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini [official website] stressed that US officials will not have unconditional access to the information.

European negotiators have expressed privacy concerns [JURIST report] and demanded data protection guarantees in exchange for sharing the data with the US Department of Homeland Security [official website]. In a press release [text] announcing the agreement, the Finnish EU presidency said the agreement "will help to prevent and combat terrorism and serious transnational crime, whilst ensuring an equivalent level of protection of passengers' personal data in line with European standards on fundamental rights and privacy."

Negotiators will continue to work on a finalized policy, as the new agreement will expire in July 2007. The temporary agreement replaces a 2004 agreement [text, PDF], which was struck down [JURIST report] by the European Court of Justice [official website] in May as lacking a sufficient legal basis. AP has more. EUObserver.com has additional coverage.

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