RealNews

Canadian and Dutch Officials Warn of Security's Side Effects

Privacy officials from Canada and the Netherlands complained today that the American campaign to crack down on terrorism was needlessly infringing on the privacy of their citizens. Peter J. Hustinx, president of the Data Protection Authority of the Netherlands, said the United States Customs Service had insisted on access to a wide variety of passenger information, not merely names and passport numbers, but credit card information, telephone contacts and even meal preferences, for flights to the United States, even though release of that information violated laws in Europe. Airlines were required to provide the information under legislation enacted after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Mr. Hustinx said the European Union had recently agreed to American demands for the information, starting March 5. He said the Union had assured airlines they would not be prosecuted, but had directed them to inform their passengers that the information was being provided to the American government. The European Union has said it was satisfied with safeguards Washington promised for the information. George Radwanski, privacy commissioner of Canada, said his government was proposing a biometric national identity card, explaining that the United States would require it for crossing the border. He too complained about the breadth of the demand for passenger information — “basically everything the airline knows about you.” Full Story

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