EC strives to sort out passenger data row with US

The European Commission is moving to put the handover of airline passenger data to the US authorities on a sound legal basis after the European Court of Justice blocked the measure last month.

The European Commission is moving to put the handover of airline passenger data to the US authorities on a sound legal basis after the European Court of Justice blocked the measure last month.

The handover of data had been agreed between the European Union and the US, and the EU ordered airlines to provide data – including names, addresses, forms of payment, contact phone numbers and other details - on passengers flying to the US from Europe.

But 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. Fundamental data protection rights had “been infringed”, it said.

Now the commission is to recommend termination of the agreement with the US before the end of this month. But it is seeking authorisation to open negotiations on a new deal that would provide a sounder legal basis for handing over the data.

In a statement, the commission said, “With the adoption of these initiatives only two weeks after the Court ruling, the EU Commission underlines its willingness to fully respect the Court's judgement.

“It also confirms its commitment, while respecting fundamental rights and freedoms, to continue the fight against terrorism and to help ensuring public security and activities by public authorities in areas of criminal law.”

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