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    New York Times: Official Assails Sharing of Passenger Data

    The New York Times reports on negotiations concerning the sharing of traveler data between European Union countries and the United States:

    BRUSSELS — Raising the stakes in a trans-Atlantic struggle over data privacy, an influential lawmaker said Tuesday that the European Parliament should reject a deal between the European Union and the United States that aims at sharing information about air passengers as a way to fight serious crime and terrorism.

    Sophie in ’t Veld, a Dutch member of the Parliament who previously helped lead efforts to block an initiative for sharing banking information with the United States, said the air passenger deal failed to address earlier concerns raised by the Parliament, and was incompatible with other European legislation. […]

    A majority of E.U. member governments approved the air passenger deal in December, although Germany and Austria abstained because they still had serious concerns about the effects of the deal on privacy.

    Ms. in ’t Veld’s recommendation is not binding, but if she gathers enough support the Parliament could block the agreement when it comes to a vote in April.

    A rejection by the Parliament could leave major commercial airlines serving trans-Atlantic routes in a form of legal limbo.

    The airlines would still be required by U.S. authorities to share information on their passengers, but the airlines could also face lawsuits from passengers who claim that sharing that information goes against European privacy standards.

    Even so, the likelihood of a disruption to air traffic is slight. If needed, U.S. authorities would still be able to gather information under bilateral arrangements with individual European countries. […]

    The dispute over so-called passenger name records — which can include names, addresses, phone numbers, itineraries and credit card numbers — is another example of a gulf over privacy between Americans and the Europeans, many of whom favor the rights of the individual over the needs of governments and corporations.

     

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