EU: MEP tables formal complaint on transfer of personal data to USA
01 November 2003
Marco Cappato, Radical MEP of the Lista Bonino, European Parliament rapporteur on privacy, has tabled today a formal complaint to the European Commission regarding the illegal trasfer of his personal data to the US. In the letter to Commissioners De Palacio and Bolkestein, the Radical MEP affirms that on the occasion of two trips to the USA, his personal data have been transferred to the US and possibly accessed by US authorities without his consent by the airline carriers and their reservation systems, as proved by the answers provided by these carriers to Mr. Cappato's requests for access to his personal data. Mr. Cappato asks to the Commission, according to article 11 of the Computerised Reservations Systems EC Regulation 2299/89, to initiate proceedings against these airlines as well as against all other arilines that are currently illegally trasferring personal data to the US in order to stop the systematic and widespread breach of EU data protection law.
Mr Cappato writes in his complaint: "Art. 6(2) of the Regulation prohibits system vendors to make available to others not involved in the transaction personal information concerning a passenger without his/her consent. Art. 11 of the Regulation puts a specific burden on the Commission to "initiate procedures to terminate infringment of the provisions of this Regulation", "acting on receipt of a complaint or on its own initiative". Notwithstanding the repeated requests I expressed notably since March of last year in the EP Citizens' Freedoms and Rights Committee as well as in plenary in the presence of high officials of the transports and internal market DGs, I still do not know if the Commission has started the first step of the procedure foreseen by art. 11.1 of the CRS Regulation aimed at acquiring informations from CRSs and airlines companies. Although I believe the Commission has gathered enough elements concerning the violation of EU data protection legal requirements to convince it to initiate procedures "on its own initiative" according to art. 11.1, I hereby table a complaint as a "natural person claiming a legitimate interest", in terms of art. 11.2 (b)".
Mr Cappato had also written twice to the President of the Belgian Authority for Data Protection, Mr Paul Thomas, in order to ask him to inquiry on the transfer of his personal data to the US. In his reply of today of the 5th of November, Commissioner Thomas wrote that the Commission will discuss Mr Cappato's complaint at the end of November. At the same time, Mr Cappato has always asked the EP to start proceedings against the EU Commission for failure to act, according to art. 232 of the EC Treaty, a position that the EP adopted in its resolution of the 9th of October."
For more information: Ottavio Marzocchi, advisor to Radical MEPs tel 0032 2 2843395