Passenger data transfers stirs heated international row

The transfer of passenger data by airlines to the US Customs and Border Protection Agency has created a global divide over fears the information is being misused and lacks privacy protection.

While a spokeswoman for the Federal Privacy Commissioner Malcolm Crompton has confirmed discussions are continuing with Australian Customs officials a trans-Atlantic row has already erupted between the European Union and the US.

The discussions with Australian customs follow privacy fears about the level of information sent to the US by local airlines via the Advanced Passenger Information System database provided by Unisys.

As reported previously in CW (May 26, 2003), Crompton said there needs to be a balance between the information provided and how it is used to ensure there isn't any 'function creep' where data is being used for purposes other than those originally stated by the US. Earlier this month the European Commission warned the transfer of passenger data is in breach of the EU Data Protection Directive and a more 'legally secure' framework is required to address the privacy shortcomings.

The need for airlines flying into the US to provide Passenger Name Records (PNRs) was introduced in December 2001 following September 11. PNR information typically includes names, travel routes, credit card numbers, and other details which US authorities said was necessary to identify potential terrorists entering the country.

The EU is insisting on privacy safeguards relating to the manner in which the data can be accessed and used by the US which utilises the Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening (CAPPS II) system.

Unless steps are taken by the US to implement safeguards, EU commissioner in charge of customs issues, Fritz Bokestein, warned there could be a "highly charged trans-Atlantic confrontation".

At a privacy conference in Sydney last week the US-based Electronic Privacy and Information Centre (EPIC) released a report warning against the use of CAPPS II claiming the system which scans for potential terrorists "is like looking for a needle in a haystack while it exposes everything else in the process."

The report, which surveyed 55 countries to document the effects of September 11, 2001, warns personal privacy has become a casualty of the war against terrorism.

The Australian government was among those criticised for its poor privacy protection laws.

"Australia and the Slovak Republic are building new DNA databases to fight crime, even though some of them are not protected by any legal data protection framework and could, as a result, easily be subject to abuse," the report said.

- with Jaikumar Vijayan

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sandra Rossi

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?