State of the Airlines

Friday, October 06, 2006

New Agreement on EU Passenger Data

A follow up to my previous post regarding the ongoing efforts to put a new plan in place for sharing EU passeneger data with the US government. You will recall that the EU courts have thrown out the previous agreement in May of this year and asked that a new one be created by October 1st. The BBC is reporting that the two sides have reached an agreement in prinicipal and are hoping to have formal approval next week.
One big change is that the data will only be "pushed" to the US via airline computer systems versus the previous system which allowed the US to "pull" the data anytime they wanted it. Another change will have all data going to the US Dept of Homeland Security who will then have authority to distribute to other agencies as required. It appears that there were concerns over the ability of other folks, lets say the FBI for instance, having access to this data at will.
On the face of it this appears to be a decent compromise. More control and security over the data for the EU and continued access to the data for the US. It also maintains the ability to share the data amongst the US federal agencies responsible for fighting terrorism. The US Dept of Homeland Security has a difficult task in efficiently distributing this data while trying not not filter or restrict too much of the information being fed to them. Let's hope that extra layer doesn't create a bottleneck on critical info. Timing is everything.

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