EU plans air passenger data law to boost security


The European Union will propose a counter-terrorism law requiring airlines to give information on passengers to authorities, EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini said.  

The measure, modeled on U.S. requirements after the Septemebr 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, would apply to flights into or out of the EU, Frattini said in an interview today in Cernobbio, Italy. Flights within the 25-country region would be excluded.
The initiative responds to a heightened terrorism alert in the U.K. related to last month's arrests of suspects in a plot to detonate bombs aboard trans-Atlantic flights. Stricter security measures have spurred complaints about burdens on airlines and restrictions on personal freedoms and privacy.
“We have to improve our security and our capabilities,” Frattini said. “We have to find the right compromise between granting security to our citizens and protecting their fundamental rights.” Airlines will be consulted about the costs of managing the data, Frattini said.
Stricter security measures spurred Ryanair Holdings Plc, Europe's largest low-cost airline, to sue the U.K. government for damages from flights cancellations last month. The Association of European Airlines said Aug. 16 that increased security requirements have cost carriers billions of euros in the past five years. The European Commission, the EU executive agency of which Frattini is a vice president, is still deciding what information should be provided to which authorities. The proposal will come by the end of this year or early 2007, he said.
All 25 countries would have to agree for the measure to become law. The European Parliament wouldn't get a binding vote.

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