eu legislators have approved an agreement allowing US authorities to obtain and store data on passengers flying to the US from Europe, ending years of resistance to a deal on handing over such information.
A majority of members in the European Parliament approved a revised agreement on sharing flight passengers’ data with the US, who have agreed to mask out passengers’ names and contact details after six months.
The data will then be kept for up to five years, after which it will move to a “dormant” database for another 10 years.
EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said the agreement provided stronger protection for the right to citizens’ privacy, as well as more legal certainty for airlines.
“At the same time, it fully meets the security needs of the US and the EU. Under the new agreement, data of passengers travelling to the US will be used to fight serious transnational crime and terrorism,” she said.
The European Parliament’s approval marks a shift in EU resistance to sharing citizens’ information with the US.
Members of the parliament have battled for more than five years to scale back agreements that allow the US to access and store the data of air passengers, arguing that it is an invasion of privacy that can lead to false arrests.
Prior to departure airlines must make the data available to US authorities, including the names, addresses, credit card details and seat numbers of the travellers.
Critics of the agreement argue that passenger data has not helped US authorities catch suspected criminals or terrorists.