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MEPs Probe Illegal Data Transfers to US, and “Rendition”

  • February 2nd, 2007
  • Posted by 7thmin

us-flag-reduced.gifThe European Parliament is to decide on 14 February, what further action it might take on “rendition” – the practice of American security services detaining terrorism suspects on European soil.
It has also been probing the transfer of personal information on air travellers to the United States.

“Rendition”

It will consider a report from a Parliamentary committee which has spent the last year investigating the claims, that CIA detainees from the Middle East had been secretly flown in or apprehended in a number of EU countries.

Members of the Parliament’s Temporary Committee on the case told journalists late last month they wanted the European Council, made up of Ministers from member states of the EU, to schedule an independent inquiry, and bring cases against any member government that might have broken European law.

The rapporteur of the committee is the Italian MEP, Giovanni Claudio Fava from the Socialist group.

Data to America

This week (31.1.07) more US-related trouble arose over the transfer of data to America on people getting onto flights across the Atlantic Ocean.

The Parliament conducted a joint debate with representatives of the European Council and the executive European Commission, on two issues:

Transfer of information on passengers leaving Europe, to a US government database, which produced security profiles on individual travelers. The Parliament was told that information was gathered on 34 topics including flight details, hotel bookings and credit cards; and that it would be transferred 15 minutes before planes took off. American authorities had demanded data on passengers or else they would suspend flights.

The hand-over to American authorities of information on international financial transactions by the Brussels-based bank service company SWIFT – Society for Worldwide International Financial Telecommunications.

The European Union’s independent Advisory Body on Data Protection and Privacy had reported that transfers of financial information were taking place without the knowledge of the EU, and the practice was illegal under European law.

There were similar concerns in the Parliament about the transfer of data on air travelers; where the transfers could contravene European law, and the data could be used for purposes not related to terrorism protection.

The European Parliament stepped in last October to correct the European Commission when it moved to make an agreement with the United States, rectifying the use of data.

It considered and then sanctioned the agreement, through to July this year, when it is to consider the issue again.

Reference:

European Parliament, PNR Joint Debate, extract from Plenary session, 31.1.07. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/

“Parliament uncovers CIA flights”, New Europe, Brussels, 28 January – 3 February 2007, p 1

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