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NEWS: Passenger information lists an emerging issue in the EU

Agence France Presse reports that, “The European Commission wants airlines flying into and out of the EU to hand passenger information to law enforcement under a new rule proposed Wednesday in the name of counter-terrorism. The European Union’s executive branch vowed to protect the privacy of citizens under the system, which would force airlines to provide authorities with data such as the names of travellers and how they paid for their trip.”

“The proposal is likely to spark a heated debate with EU states and lawmakers in the European Parliament who have already forced Brussels to renegotiate data sharing deals with the United States. …The EU already shares passenger data with the United States, Canada and Australia for flights to those countries. Those arrangements are being renegotiated, with the European Parliament demanding that the swaps be limited to terrorism and serious crime probes.”

As we’ve noted in previous campaign blogs, “The Czech parliament is currently blocking the Canada-EU air transportation agreement in retaliation over the imposition of visa requirements for Czech citizens seeking entry into Canada (as a way to stop Roma refugees from entering this country). The Canadian Press has reported that, “Sources have said the Czech Republic (has also) responded by linking the visa issue to free-trade negotiations between Canada and Europe, a move that could slow progress towards a deal.”

In late 2001, Canada and the United States agreed to a Smart Border Action Plan which included a provision on information sharing on airplane passenger lists. The failed Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America stated, “For aviation security purposes, each country has developed, is developing or may develop its own passenger assessment (no-fly) program for use on flights within, to or from that country to ensure that persons who pose a threat to aviation are monitored or denied boarding.” In January 2007 Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow wrote in an op-ed in the Toronto Star that, “Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon’s ‘made-in-Canada’ no-fly list is anything but. However ‘made-in-Canada’ our list is for the moment, it will be ultimately merged with the U.S. no-fly list, which has already included peace activists, preschoolers and one U.S. senator.”

Today’s news article is at http://www.vancouversun.com/travel/fight+terrorism+wants+airline+passenger+data/4209569/story.html.