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. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2012 @ 8:44am

    I think this is a perfect story to see what "spin" is all about.

    Before we get going, let's understand something: The US is a sovereign nation, and as such, may set the rules required for entry into it's territory - even if it is only in an aircraft overflying it's territories.

    In many countries, that requirement would be an entry visa or such, or on the case of a countries like Russian and China, it was that no aircraft could even fly in it's airspace. Still others may require decontamination of an aircraft upon arrival, or each passenger is interrogated before being allowed on a flight.

    As such, what the US asks for passengers inbound to it's country is not outrageous. Rather, it's pretty smart - why accept someone onto a flight who isn't going to be allowed into the US anyway? It seems like a pretty good way to control security risks, making sure that those who are clearly a risk can't even get to the country.

    Now, the spin: "almost to the extent of blackmail" is a great phrase, it certainly can give you a visual / mental impression of what is going on. But it is truly spin, because the EU minister is completely ignoring the sovereign rights of the US. The US has the right to refuse access to anyone. They have the right to determine what aircraft can and cannot come into the US.

    The minister does protest too much. EU citizens can choose NOT to go to the US, and thus not have to give their information to the destination country.

    There is no invasion of privacy, only an invasion of self-serving politicians trying to spin this into their favor.

    I wonder what her stand was when websites all over the world were forced to use EU privacy guidelines?

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