And Whether You Eat Kosher or Halal

The further along this goes, the more utterly absurd it gets. No doubt, requesting a halal menu on your flight will now mark you for additional scrutiny.

US ‘licence to snoop’ on British air travellers
By David Millward, Transport Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:02am GMT 02/01/2007

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.
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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.

Read the rest here.

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