LITTLE or no progress is being made in the tortuous negotiations between the US government and the European Union over what personal information about travellers should be provided in advance of their arrival in the US and what limitations should be placed on the use of the information. Under temporary arrangements, due to expire in July, the American authorities insist on having 34 pieces of data on each passenger on a flight from a European Union country. The information required includes name, home address and phone number, form of payment and credit card details, address during US visit, and in some cases can extend to dietary preferences. In principle, airlines are liable to fines of US$6'000 per passenger or withdrawal of landing rights if they fail to provide this information. Negotiations for a permanent agreement are due to start next month and are likely to be lengthy. The EU justice commissioner, Franco Frattini, has said that he wants a reduction in the amount of information provided and a more limited access to it than the US currently permits. Earlier this week Mr Frattini told the EU parliament that less information would not harm counter-terrorism efforts and that privacy rights are nonnegotiable. For its part the US administration has made clear that it wants faster access to the data, longer storage rights and greater flexibility in using personal name records. An early agreement seems unlikely and the provision arrangement may have to be extended.
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