EU civil liberties officials give surprising OK to US data transfer deal

Some parliamentarians are too scared to say no to the US, says one official

In a surprising turnaround, members of the European Parliament's civil liberties committee voted on Tuesday to endorse a controversial data transfer agreement with the U.S.

The so-called PNR (passenger name register) agreement requires airlines to pass on passenger data, including name, contact details, payment information, itinerary, email and phone numbers, to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The parliamentarian charged with evaluating the deal, Sophie in't Veld, had called for turning the deal down, amid concerns that European citizens' data would not be given sufficient protection. An independent report carried out by legal professors said that the draft text of the new agreement (which would replace the current deal dating from 2007) does not guarantee independence of supervision, and that individuals' rights and judicial review would not be enforceable.

Under the new agreement, PNR data would be "depersonalized" after six months and would be moved into a "dormant database" after five years. But the information would still be held for a further 15 years before being fully "anonymized."

Opponents of the deal say many of these terms are vague and difficult to interpret, leaving the door open for abuse. Furthermore, although the original deal specified that the data could only be used to fight serious crime or terrorism, under the new text, it could be used on a case-by case basis if so ordered by a U.S. court. This has led to fears about "mission-creep."

The committee approved the deal with 31 votes in favor, 23 against and one abstention, with many politicians saying that even a flawed deal was better than no deal. Following the vote, In't Veld alleged that her colleagues had been "held to ransom" by the U.S. authorities, who threatened to suspend visa-free travel to the U.S. if the deal was rejected.

"It was quite a close vote and I think it came down to a small number of MEPs who are too scared to say no to the U.S. in these transatlantic agreements especially in the way we deal with the U.S. on privacy issues," said Green parliamentarian Jan Phillipp Albrecht.

The agreement will be put to a vote by the whole European Parliament on April 19.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?