adam on Wed, 26 Feb 2003 00:14:05 +0100 (CET)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> aeroplot


Sorry if I am a bit behind the game here but did anyone see this:,3604,899167,00.html

US demands air travellers' data

Jeevan Vasagar
Thursday February 20, 2003
The Guardian

All passengers flying to the US from Britain will have personal
information, including credit card details, handed over to the American
authorities before they set foot on US soil, under a deal agreed

The information a passenger submits to airline computers when buying a
ticket - the passenger name record (PNR) - will be freely available to
customs, immigration and other agencies in the US, where there are no data
protection laws.

This includes basic details a traveller is obliged to give the airline
such as full name, itinerary and contact phone number, but also a wealth
of personal information.

The deal was struck between the European commission and America and is
binding on all British airlines.

Despite fears that the American demand clashed with European data
protection laws, the commission complied after the US authorities had
threatened to stop flights to America.

David Henderson, spokesman for the European Airlines Association,
explained: "The PNR has certain mandatory fields, but it also has a host
of optional fields - special meal request, 'passenger only speaks French',
method of payment, and if payment is by credit card, the card number.

"There is no real limit to what it can contain. It could say 'this VIP is
chairman of such-and-such a corporation'."

The agreement bypasses European safeguards on the use of personal data,
which require states to make clear for what purpose private information is
being held and to whom it can be passed on, and give citizens a right of

US government agencies will have electronic access to the details before
planes arrive. The measures are aimed primarily at preventing and
combating terrorism but will also be used to investigate fraud and

The deal for sharing passenger information was agreed between the US
deputy customs commissioner, Douglas Browning, and commission officials in
Brussels. The requirement will begin on March 5, though a formal
arrangement to share data still has to be approved by EU governments and
the European parliament.

Under US border security legislation passed last year airlines are
required to make available all passengers' details including their
birthdate, citizenship, gender, passport number, country of residence and
address in the US.

Tony Bunyan, editor of the civil liberties group State watch, said: "Why
should people hold information on us if we've done nothing wrong? This
could be used against people wanting to go to a political demonstration.

"Someone who is up to no good is going to find a way around it by having a
false identity."

Simon Davies, director of the independent watchdog Privacy International,
warned there was wide scope for abuse of personal information. "This is a
backroom deal. The information once in the hands of the US will leak like
a sieve.

"Anybody who is of a particular ethnic origin could be routinely suspect,
anybody who is caught up in an intelligence sweep, or law enforcement data
matching exercise, could find themselves subject to US law without any
hope of appeal or representation."

US customs did not respond to inquiries yesterday.

(thanks to Georgie my flatmate for pointing this out)

Adam Hyde
r a d i o q u a l i a
Free as in 'media'

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: contact: