EU travel privacy battle heats up

Tuesday, 23 December 2003, 4:52 AM EST

Some European politicians are trying to stop an agreement between Europe and the United States to share travelers' personal information in an effort to screen for terrorists and drug smugglers, announced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday.

Two European Parliament members are already calling for the European Union's highest court to examine the legality of the announced compromise, which was negotiated by the European Union's executive branch, known as the European Commission.

The Commission said airlines could continue to share personal passenger data because the United States' privacy protections were "adequate."

Parliament members, including Johanna Boogerd, a Dutch Liberal, sharply questioned that judgment.

"The adequacy finding means that the Commission believes that the U.S. provides adequate protection of the passenger data, despite the fact that the transfer is without the consent of the passengers, that the transfer in itself is illegal according to EU data-protection laws, and that the U.S. has no proper data-protection laws nor a fully independent data protection officer," Boogerd said.

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