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."

Filed Under: data sharing, european union, rights, visa


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  1. icon
    Andrew (profile), 23 Apr 2012 @ 3:58am

    Re:

    Well yes it does have a right to control who comes in, but there are consequences from behaving like that. Visiting the US is a pain for anyone without a US passport: visas / visa waivers, long queues, photos, fingerprint scans, etc. And the rest of the world, largely, reciprocates by making it a pain for US citizens to visit their countries.*

    Contrast this with, for example, Schengen in the EU. This allows citizens of many EU states to cross each others' borders without showing their passports. Sure there's a loss of control, but there are also big benefits in terms of free movement of people and goods. I'm not saying it's a panacea, and I'm sure others with much more experience can chime in with a more nuanced view, but this sort of setup does have benefits.

    * At least in my limited experience.

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