EU Says U.S. Can't Keep Airline Passenger Data Safe

May 30, 2006 (06:05 PM EDT)

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European Union leaders fought a requirement to give airline passenger data to the United States, saying that they did not trust that it would be protected.

A court has agreed that airlines do not have to provide the information, but for a different reason. An EU justice said the U.S. government has no legal basis for requesting passenger data, according to a report from the BBC this week. The United States argues that it is needed for airline security.

Though EU leaders said they believed the arrangement violated privacy, the two governments have been working under an agreement that requires all airlines to provide personal information about passengers within 15 minutes of take-off. The court ruled that security-related information does not have to be as closely guarded as information obtained for other purposes.

The U.S. government has threatened to remove landing rights from any airline that refuses to provide the information, but transatlantic travel is not expected to be affected by the ruling since most airlines are complying.