Is this really necessary to our national security?
Highly sensitive information about the religious beliefs, political opinions and even the sex life of Britons travelling to the United States is to be made available to US authorities when the European Commission agrees to a new system of checking passengers.
The EC is in the final stages of agreeing a new Passenger Name Record system with the US which will allow American officials to access detailed biographical information about passengers entering international airports.
Under the new agreement, which goes live at the end of this month, the US will be able to hold the records of European passengers for 15 years compared with the current three year limit. The EU parliament said it was concerned the data would lead to ‘a significant risk of massive profiling and data mining, which is incompatible with basic European principles and is a practice still under discussion in the US congress.’
The new agreement will see US authorities gain access to detailed passenger information, from credit card details to home addresses and even what sort of food may have been ordered before a flight. In addition, US authorities will be free to add other information they have obtained about a passenger, leading to concerns about how the information will be shared.
‘If you are going to have this kind of agreement it should involve parliament and the data protection supervisor,’ said Tony Bunyan of Statewatch, the civil liberties organisation that campaigns against excessive surveillance.
He warned that under the new system the data will be shared with numerous US agencies. ‘The data protection supervisor and the European parliament are angry that they were not consulted,’ Bunyan said. ‘But they are also angry with a number of elements of the plan such as giving the US the absolute right to pass the data on to third parties.’
Here’s a question to chew on. Is there any underlying theory of government, not fascist or totalitarian, that sees indiscriminate access to this type of information as a legitimate aim of government?