The European Court of Justice has blocked an agreement that forces airlines to hand over passenger data to the US authorities.
The handover of passenger data had been agreed between the European Union and the US, but the court ruled that the deal was not founded on an "appropriate legal basis".
The EU ordered airlines to provide data on passengers flying to the US from Europe – including names, addresses, forms of payment, contact phone numbers and other details - in May 2004. The information is handed to the US Bureau of Customs and Border Protection.
The US said the data would be used to help fight terrorism, but the deal has been opposed by the European Parliament, which argued that the data could be misused and that there were insufficiently strong guarantees on data protection.
The European Data Protection Supervisor intervened in support of the Parliament, in its first ever intervention before the European Court.
The court ruled that there was not “an appropriate legal basis” either for the agreement to hand over the information, or for a European Commission’s finding that the data was adequately protected by the US, nor the agreement to hand the information over, the court ruled. Fundamental data protection rights had “been infringed”, it said.