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#225112 12/31/06 11:40 PM
... is here, and he's American.

Originally Posted by

US 'licence to snoop' on British air travellers

Britons flying to America could have their credit card and email accounts inspected by the United States authorities following a deal struck by Brussels and Washington.

By using a credit card to book a flight, passengers face having other transactions on the card inspected by the American authorities. Providing an email address to an airline could also lead to scrutiny of other messages sent or received on that account.

The extent of the demands were disclosed in "undertakings" given by the US Department of Homeland Security to the European Union and published by the Department for Transport after a Freedom of Information request.

About four million Britons travel to America each year and the released document shows that the US has demanded access to far more data than previously realised.

Not only will such material be available when combating terrorism but the Americans have asserted the right to the same information when dealing with other serious crimes.

Shami Chakrabarti, the director of the human rights group Liberty, expressed horror at the extent of the information made available. "It is a complete handover of the rights of people travelling to the United States," she said.

As the Americans tightened security after the September 11 attacks, they demanded that airlines provide comprehensive information about passengers before allowing them to land.

But this triggered a dispute that came to a head last year in a Catch 22 situation. On one hand they were told they must provide the information, on the other they were threatened with heavy fines by EU governments for breaching European data protection legislation.

In October, Brussels agreed to sweep away the "bureaucratic hurdles" preventing airlines handing over this material after European carriers were threatened with exclusion from the US. The newly-released document sets out the rules underpinning that deal.

As a result the Americans are entitled to 34 separate pieces of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data - all of which must be provided by airlines from their computers.

Much of it is routine but some elements will prove more contentious, such as a passenger's email address, whether they have a previous history of not turning up for flights and any religious dietary requirements.

While insisting that "additional information" would only be sought from lawful channels, the US made clear that it would use PNR data as a trigger for further inquiries.

Anyone seeking such material would normally have to apply for a court order or subpoena, although this would depend on what information was wanted. Doubts were raised last night about the effectiveness of the safeguards.

"There is no guarantee that a bank or internet provider would tell an individual that material about them was being subpoenaed," an American lawyer said.

"Then there are problems, such as where the case would take place and whether an individual has time to hire a lawyer, even if they wanted to challenge it."

Initially, such material could be inspected for seven days but a reduced number of US officials could view it for three and a half years. Should any record be inspected during this period, the file could remain open for eight years.

Material compiled by the border authorities can be shared with domestic agencies. It can also be on a "case by case" basis with foreign governments.

Washington promised to "encourage" US airlines to make similar information available to EU governments - rather than compel them to do so.

"It is pretty horrendous, particularly when you couple it with our one-sided extradition arrangements with the US," said Miss Chakrabarti.

"It is making the act of buying a ticket a gateway to a host of personal email and financial information. While there are safeguards, it appears you would have to go to a US court to assert your rights."

Chris Grayling, the shadow transport secretary, said: "Our government and the EU have handed over very substantial powers to gain access to private information belonging to British citizens."

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "Every airline is obliged to conform with these rules if they wish to continue flying As part of the terms of carriage, it is made clear to passengers what these requirements are.

The US government has given undertakings on how this data will be used and who will see it."

#225125 01/01/07 06:30 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,395
anyone with an american passport that travel overseas is in that big database now. we're all possible threats

Marty #225128 01/01/07 09:26 AM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 991
My thoughts are, I have nothing to hide, and if it keeps just one person from doing something stupid, I'm all for it. If you don't want to play the game, stay out of the air. What is the worst that can happen with the gov. getting this information? Why does it seem to be an invasion of our privacy when they ask for information, but when something awful happens, we want to know why the government didnt' do anything to protect us? We can't have it both ways, unfortunately. This seems the lesser of the two evils.

Live so that when you arise in the A.M, Satan shudders & says..
'Oh sh t..she's awake!'
Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 264
Thank you S&S. My sentiments exactly. If it protects us from another 9/11 then so be it. Happy New Year

ArtZ SmartZ
Joined: Feb 2006
Posts: 1,770
I agree with S&S - anything that keeps me safe. Every time I fly, I make sure I thank the security folk - usually suprises them, but they are responsible for getting me to my destination alive and them doing a thorough job is critical to that. However, I do take issue with my work emails available for scrutiny. Sensitive information that is not for anyone's eyes other than the intended recipients. Personal emails, on the other hand, would likely shock the most jaded sailor! LOL (I have some very "naughty" friends with twisted senses of humor!)

It's never too late to have a happy childhood!
Nova #225144 01/01/07 02:14 PM
You do realise just how much private information the US government will now be gathering on travellers, and how insecure that information will be? And that identity fraud is becoming one of the biggest economic crimes in the world?

I see in Europe the growth of an unelected all-powerful autocracy which terrifies me. So long as the people at the top choose to be benign all is well, but what if people get into power who choose otherwise? There are now no checks and balances to stop them doing whatever they will. How many people realise how insidiously Hitler gained power, and that despite his appalling acts he never broke any law of his country?

Too much centralised power always frightens me, whether it's in Europe or America, and the first step to power is knowledge. Anyone read Orwell?

#225151 01/01/07 03:08 PM
Orwell was great fiction, Pedro2, however IMHO Americans and Europeans had better be concerned about the threat from "outside" (Islamic Fundamentalists) rather than the threat from within. Both may be insidious but one is much more immediate.

#225153 01/01/07 03:11 PM
Almost goes without saying - I'm with Pedro2 on this one. No, you can't have my civil rights - I'm still using them.

#225157 01/01/07 03:31 PM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 5,255
p2, we were just talking about that hitler issue last night, how no one realized until they were in neck deep. scary stuff, and i dont think i like it.

one guy in a zillion puts something in his shoe and customs goes bezerk. what happens if someone trys to swallow explosives? cavity searches for everyone?

i'm with you guys. this world is getting outta hand...

Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 991
I'm very sorry that in order to secure our skies, we have to give up a few civil rights. It's too bad that the safety issues have to impede on our rights as Americans, and that for the sake of keeping my children safe, I have to give up a few rights. I wish it were otherwise, because I don't want to feel like I'm being scrutinized every time I purchase an airplane ticket. But, I would so much rather give up a few rights, than sit down beside a radical terrorist, and have no place to go but die with him. My children and grandchildren and their safety are my concern. I would give up all of my "civil rights" to keep them safe. Wish it wasn't the way the world has turned, but it is, so I'll deal with this. It seems a small sacrifice right now. Perhaps, later, when they are taking more, and we are receiving less, I'll rethink my position.

Live so that when you arise in the A.M, Satan shudders & says..
'Oh sh t..she's awake!'
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