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US 'Blackmails' EU Into Agreeing To Hand Over Passenger Data

from the you-have-no-more-fundamental-rights dept

A couple months ago, we wrote about a debate in the EU Parliament, concerning an agreement over how much data should be shared with the US on passengers flying from the EU into the US. The person in charge of analyzing the agreement, Sophie in't Veld, urged the Parliament to reject the agreement, saying that it violated EU citizens' fundamental rights. Specifically, the US wanted access to more data with fewer restrictions than the EU felt was fair. However, it appears that after the US pulled out its big gun over this -- threatening to stop allowing EU citizens to visit the US without first obtaining a visa -- the Parliament caved and agreed to the deal. The one big concession from the US, however, was that EU passengers will be able to see their records and correct errors. Sophie in't Veld is still not happy -- and for good reason:
"This Agreement is contrary to European Treaties and privacy laws and does not meet the minimum criteria set by Parliament itself. Diplomatic relations with the United States appear to be more important than the fundamental rights of our own EU citizens."
In a statement sent to Techdirt, she also noted that, in caving, the EU Parliament "loses its credibility and EU citizens draw the short straw." Part of the problem is just how unequal the setup is, with the US getting tons of power over EU citizens. And, of course, the fact that the EU caved to the US sets a bad precedent. "The Trans-Atlantic relations need to become more balanced. EU should take a less timid stance towards the US." In the end, she notes that what happened was "almost to the extent of blackmail."

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  1. identicon
    Someguy, 23 Apr 2012 @ 11:41am

    American in Europe

    I have a particularly strong set of views on this topic that largely reflects the views expressed by most people on this forum. However, if I force myself to take a step back and consider everything, I can ALMOST understand the US stance on this topic. I am an American but I have lived in Europe for the past 15 years. One significant difference that I can see between the US and the EU countries is that European countries have much tighter control over what people can do on a daily basis. It is difficult, though not impossible, to live in most european countries without having the proper documentation. Back in 2000, I couldn't even open an internet account (dial up for e-mail) without proving to the telephone company that I had the proper paperwork to live here. Effectively, it was impossible to live here without repeatedly demonstrating that I had the correct paperwork. In contrast in the US, once you are inside the country, there are very few instances where you need to demonstrate that you have residency. Because of this, the US must have tighter border controls.

    As this is a techy group, the best analogy that I can come up with is IT security. The EU has security in depth, while the US is sticking with perimeter defense. Of course that security in depth comes at a price, and the price is privacy. Personal data is much more readily shared within EU countries than it is in the US (example, Denmark sends its citizens their completed tax forms for "approval" at the end of each year). Big brother is always watching, its just a matter of how visible and pervasive his presence is felt.

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