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    Washington Post: International cooperation a challenge for air security

    The Washington Post reports on problems among countries concerning security and privacy.

    Although the United States has authority over airlines that fly to the United States, in practice that power is limited by the willingness of airports and host governments to carry out changes — including paying for new screening machines, making space for them at crowded checkpoints, setting operating procedures and, ultimately, enforcing the rules.

    Michael Chertoff, who was homeland security secretary from 2005 to last January, said the day-to-day reality will sink in in coming weeks, particularly in Europe, where privacy concerns — especially over whole-body scanners that can peer beneath people’s clothing to detect anomalous objects — run strongest.

    “We have very little control in the United States over the way people apply standards overseas,” Chertoff said. “It only works with the cooperation of foreign governments.”

    Former U.S. officials recalled the years of painstaking talks needed to persuade some European countries to allow collection of criminal conviction records or immigration watch lists. Similarly, the European Parliament rejected last year a proposal to make the use of whole-body scanners mandatory across the continent. […]

    “The debate is certainly on about what is the best way of collecting data on passengers, on screening and on connecting the dots,” said Frank Schmiedel, a Washington-based spokesman for the European Commission, which held talks in Brussels on Thursday with U.S. officials and European lawmakers. “But I haven’t seen any magic recipe so far where people say, ‘Wow, that’s a solution,’ ” he added. […]

    “Politicians who want a quick fix are going to run out and buy hundreds of machines before they take into consideration privacy and technical concerns,” one aviation industry official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid offending government officials.

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