American Civil Liberties Union says EU passenger data will get little or no privacy protection

Support our work: become a Friend of Statewatch from as little as £1/€1 per month.

update: 4.2.04: EU planning to nod through use of PNR data for use by CAPPS II: Report and documentation

Barry Steinhardt, Director of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Program has prepared a memorandum on "The power of the US government to obtain private records" which illustrates how passenger data (PNR) could be used to build up extensive files on individuals. The exchange of PNR data is the first step in a chain. The USA intends to introduce CAPPS II (the pre-screening of passengers) which can be used either to deny permission to board a plan or be used to question an individual or place them under surveillance on arrival. CAPPS II will involves checking names and details against a host of US police and intelligence databases and to gather data from e-mails and credit card accounts.

The ACLU Memorandum concludes that:

"European passenger data that is shared with the United States will receive little or no protection. Individuals targeted for scrutiny by U.S. officials will have no recourse as their most personal medical and financial is examined and processed in ways they never imagined and never contemplated when they purchased an airline ticket.

We urge the European Commission on Privacy to state that United States laws are not adequate to safeguard the privacy rights of European citizens and block the implementation of this proposed privacy sharing agreement."

Text of the ACLU memorandum, 2 February 2004 (pdf)


1. "Undertakings of the Department of Homeland Security Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP)" (pdf)
2. Privacy International report (pdf) - released 2 February 2004
3.Article 29 working party: Opinion on Adequate Protection of Personal Data (pdf)
4. USA to use EU PNR data for CAPPS II testing despite assurances the agreement would not cover it: Report
5. Statewatch: Commission did agree that PNR data can be used for CAPPS II testing, but the question is why? Report and analysis
6. See also Statewatch's Observatory on PNR & USA
7. See also Statewatch's Observatory on EU PNR scheme

Our work is only possible with your support.
Become a Friend of Statewatch from as little as £1/€1 per month.


Spotted an error? If you've spotted a problem with this page, just click once to let us know.

Report error