Ian Traynor

New pact would give EU citizens’ data to US

A comprehensive transatlantic pact clearing the way for the unprecedented supply of private data on European citizens to the American authorities is to be promoted by France in support of the US-driven campaign to combat terrorism and transnational crime.

The French government is expected to use its six-month presidency of the EU, starting tomorrow, to build on 18 months of confidential negotiations between Washington and Brussels aimed at clearing the complex legal obstacles to the exchange of personal information with the Americans.

The controversial proposed pact, a “framework agreement” on common data protection principles, is likely to enable the Americans to access the credit card histories, banking details and travel habits of Europeans[…]

“Everybody’s keen on this and sees the benefit of it. The French are very keen to continue the work,” said a senior official in Brussels. “There’s all sorts of information stored on computers nowadays that may be of interest to law enforcement agencies. If we reach agreement, we may well contemplate turning it into a binding international agreement.”

The US drive to gain access to the private data of Europeans is the latest episode in a systematic American campaign.

Under separate agreements being negotiated, Washington is insisting on having armed guards on flights from Europe to the US, is introducing a new electronic travel authorisation system where travellers to the US would need to apply online for permission to fly before buying a ticket, and last year the EU yielded to American pressure to supply the US authorities with 19 pieces of information on passengers flying from Europe to America.

“This is outrageous,” said Sophie In’t Veld, a Dutch Liberal MEP on the European parliament’s civil liberties committee. “This is about fundamental rights. But it has all been done in secret by civil servants behind closed doors.”

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