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US criticized for air passenger data negotiations with new EU member states

[JURIST] A European Commission [official website] official on Wednesday sharply criticized as "unacceptable" American attempts to negotiate with newer EU member states, reportedly offering to allow visa-free travel in exchange for extra air passenger data. Directorate-General for Justice, Freedom and Security Jonathan Faull [official profile, PDF] said American negotiations with individual EU member states were disrespectful to the EU system. While it was unclear what demands the US had made in its negotiations, Faull suggested the US might have asked EU countries to surrender the data of people who fly over US territory. The United States already has a data-sharing agreement [text, PDF; JURIST report] with the EU, and most EU passengers do not need a visa to travel into the United States. The US government's refusal to allow all EU citizens visa-free travel into the United States, though, coupled with the new bilateral negotiation attempts, could put US citizens' visa-free travel to EU member states in jeopardy, Faull said.

Under the existing agreement, air carriers transmit passenger data directly to the Department of Homeland Security within 15 minutes of a flight's departure for the United States, and DHS collects 19 pieces of data. Additionally, EU citizens are allowed to seek compensation and redress pursuant to the US Privacy Act [text; JURIST report]. AFP has more.

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