US may be refused air passenger data by Europe

The European Union’s transfer of airline passenger data to the US should be declared illegal, says an adviser to the European Court of Justice.

The European Union’s transfer of airline passenger data to the US should be declared illegal, says an adviser to the European Court of Justice.

The passenger data of those flying to the US from Europe, which includes names, addresses, forms of payment, contact phone numbers and other details, is being used by the US as part of its fight against terrorism.

The EU has ordered airlines to provide the information since last May. However, advocate general Philippe Leger, the leading adviser to the European Court of Justice, said the EU acted illegally in granting permission for the data to be transferred.

Leger said the European Commission wrongly used a law covering only civil matters to deal with public security and criminal issues, and said the EU did not have “an appropriate legal basis” for approving the data transfer.

The European Court of Justice is expected to rule on the matter next year, but it usually takes a lead from its advisers in most cases.

The EU passenger data is sent to the US Bureau of Customs and Border Protection. It is not clear how the US government will react if it is refused the data.

The European airline industry is now facing uncertainty over the issue.

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