EU: PSE (Socialist group) leader in EP calls for action on EU-US PNR deal
- "the Commission and Council have blatantly ignored the will of the Parliament" Enrique Barón Crespo MEP
- Privacy International: "These personal data transfers and future plans are inadequately protected, dangerous, and hypocritical"
Enrique Barón Crespo MEP, the leader of the PSE (Socialist group - second largest party in the European Parliament) has joined Graham Watson MEP (ELDR) and Johnna Boogerd-Quaak MEP (the rapporteur) in calling on Pat Cox, the President of the European Parliament to ensure that action is takne on the EU-US PNR deal. In a letter to Cox dated 18 May Enrique Barón Crespo says:
As you maybe aware the Commission has adopted the decision on "adequacy finding" for the transfer of passenger data to the US. This decision enabled the General Affairs Council to conclude the EU/US international agreement on transfer of passenger data.
With these decisions the Commission and Council have blatantly ignored the will of the Parliament. The chamber reaffirmed its position twice by taking a vote to ask the Court of Justice to rule on the legality of the agreement and to wait for the decision of the Court of Justice before adopting an opinion. Our institution has now been deprived of its legal opinion. This is totally unacceptable.
Nothing can justify an urgency procedure from the Commission and the Council, especially when the President-in-Office of the Council knew that the opinion of the Court of Justice was to be delivered in a very short time.
It is clear to us that the decisions taken are in breach of the loyal cooperation between the EU institutions. They are of unprecedented gravity and show open disdain. The Parliament would be best served by referring this matter to the Court of Justice. May I urge you to take any measures you deem appropriate as soon as possible to protect the interests of this institution."
Enrique Barón Crespo
1. Crespo letter to Cox: Crespo letter (pdf)
2. Watson/Boogerd-Quaak letter to: Pat Cox, 18 May 2004
Privacy International press statement
Privacy International (PI) has issued a press statement on the EU-US PNR deal saying at:
"With its self-interested determination in reducing privacy rights and its inability to stand on principle, the European Commission is selling one of its proudest legal regimes to the lowest bidder. Even as the U.S. government has shown reluctance in the past year to abuse its own citizens data (e.g. in the testing of CAPPS II), the EU is handing over European personal data for abuse; while simultaneously calling for the abuse of citizens' data for a variety of EU purposes.
These personal data transfers and future plans are inadequately protected, dangerous, and hypocritical."
PI say that:
The Commission has failed on many grounds:
It did not give due regard to data protection principles in negotiating away many of the key tenets.
It has not assured adequate protection requirements, clear purpose limitation, non-excessive data collection, limited data retention time, and insurance against further transfers beyond the DHS. Insufficiently independent privacy officers (in the Commissions own words), 3.5 years of retention, and ambiguous statements of offences are inadequate grounds to flout EU privacy law.
It did not draw sufficient attention to the inequality of the U.S. law as it applies only to foreign carriers, not U.S. airlines operating abroad. In turn, further investigations must be conducted to ensure that U.S. airlines are abiding by EU privacy law.
It should not be promoting a European policy on law enforcement access to this data; it should instead be enforcing previous policy on privacy and airline reservation systems.
It should not be pushing for a multilateral solution that would transform this situation from a small problem into a global surveillance infrastructure.
Privacy International press release: PI (pdf)
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