Monday, June 05, 2006

Flight data pact shot down [EU]

The BBC has just reported this morning's ruling of the European Court of Justice in Joined Cases C-317 and 318/04 European Parliament, supported by the European Data Protection Supervisor v European Council, supported by the European Commission that the EU-US agreement requiring airlines to transfer passenger data to the US authorities was not founded on an "appropriate legal basis".
Till now, within 15 minutes of each flight, European airlines have given US authorities 34 items of personal information concerning each passenger, including their names, addresses and credit card details. Washington has warned that it will impose heavy fines and deny landing rights for any airline failing to comply with the agreement and that passengers will be subject to long security checks on arrival, if the data is not sent in advance.The US says this data is used to combat terrorism, but the European Parliament has consistently opposed handing over the passenger details to the US, arguing that the US did not guarantee adequate levels of data protection.
The ECJ has given EU Member States until 30 September 2006 to find a new legal solution "for reasons of legal certainty", so there should be no short-term effect on travellers. The European Commission took its decision to permit the supply the information under the EU Data Protection Directive, but the court said that the directive does not govern the transmission of data collected for security purposes.
Full text of Directive 95/46 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data here.Further reports and comments in the EU Observer, WSTM-TV and the Independent Online.

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