US often demands airline passenger data

EU ruling legitimises what is already common practice

Countries in Europe will have to give data on passengers flying from Europe to the United States to the US authorities, according to a new ruling by the European Parliament. The EU had resisted this decision for more than five years, arguing it was an invasion of privacy that could result in false arrests. However, now that the US has agreed to “mask out” passengers’ names and contact details after six months, the agreement passed in the parliament by 409 votes to 226.
Airlines must now make passenger data available to US authorities before departure. This includes the names, addresses, credit card details, seat numbers, eating preferences and other information on the travellers.
However, US authorities have requested such information from airlines before. A source in the airline industry who wants to remain anonymous says that last month authorities in the US accessed data from one large European airline 7,000 times, requesting additional information on around 5% of its passengers who flew to the United States.
[photo courtesy KLM Royal Dutch Airlines]


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