EU-US Negotiations on an agreement to protect personal information exchanged in the context of fighting crime and terrorism…
Yesterday, Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, announced:
Today the European Union and the United States opened negotiations on an agreement to protect personal information exchanged in the context of fighting crime and terrorism. The negotiations will build on our longstanding, robust cooperation and agreements in this area. The United States and the European Union are committed to ensuring a high level of protection of personal information, while fighting crime and terrorism. The United States and the European Union are strongly determined to reach without delay an agreement that will advance our mutual goals.
This needs to be watched very closely – especially since just a day earlier Peter Hustinx (the European Data Protection Supervisor) had announced his dissatisfaction over Passenger Name Record (PNR) information being disclosed between EU members.
55. …He is however obliged to observe that the essential prerequisite to any development of a PNR scheme – i.e. compliance with necessity and proportionality principles – is not met in the Proposal. The EDPS recalls that in his view, PNR data could certainly be necessary for law enforcement purposes in specific cases and meet data protection requirements. It is their use in a systematic and indiscriminate way, with regard to all passengers, which raises specific concerns.
56. The Impact Assessment gives elements aiming at justifying the need for PNR data to fight against crime, but the nature of this information is too general, and it fails to support the large scale processing of PNR data for intelligence purposes. In the view of the EDPS, the only measure compliant with data protection requirements would be the use of PNR-data on a case-by-case basis, when there is a serious threat established by concrete indicators.
If we can’t protect personal data amongst ourselves, how on earth are we going to stop the USA demanding and getting far more? “Air passengers’ personal data could certainly be necessary for law enforcement purposes in targeted cases, when there is a serious threat supported by concrete indicators. It is their use in a systematic and indiscriminate way, with regard to all passengers, which raises specific concerns,” said Hustinx. And we all know that the US authorities are renowned for declining to use their personal databases in a systematic and indiscriminate manner.
My bet is that there will be a lot of huffing and puffing, and pretending to get what we (the European citizen) wants; but America will eventually get all that it seeks simply because it is America and is supported (through national interest) by most of the individual national governments in Europe. We will be told by the Vice-President of the European Commission that our personal data is protected – but it won’t be.