Flight data pact shot down

Right: Luxembourg judges return from a raid on the Commission's Belgian HQ

The BBC has just reported this morning's ruling of the European Court of Justice in Joined Cases C-317 and 318/04 European Parliament, supported by the European Data Protection Supervisor v European Council, supported by the European Commission that the EU-US agreement requiring airlines to transfer passenger data to the US authorities was not founded on an "appropriate legal basis". Till now, within 15 minutes of each flight, European airlines have given US authorities 34 items of personal information concerning each passenger, including their names, addresses and credit card details. Washington has warned that it will impose heavy fines and deny landing rights for any airline failing to comply with the agreement and that passengers will be subject to long security checks on arrival, if the data is not sent in advance.

The US says this data is used to combat terrorism, but the European Parliament has consistently opposed handing over the passenger details to the US, arguing that the US did not guarantee adequate levels of data protection.

The ECJ has given EU Member States until 30 September 2006 to find a new legal solution "for reasons of legal certainty", so there should be no short-term effect on travellers. The European Commission took its decision to permit the supply the information under the EU Data Protection Directive, but the court said that the directive does not govern the transmission of data collected for security purposes.

Above: the Europeans have proved they mean business when protecting personal data.

Given the choice, the IPKat would prefer to know his flight was terrorist-free,even if it meant him ending up on a mailing list which delivered him unwanted advertisements. Merpel, however, would prefer to know that the Parliament and ECJ really were keeping a check on what the European Commission was up to, since it's not much more accountable than the government in China (see today's earlier blog).

Right: a nightmare for personal data-gathering - Tibbles has a thousand names ...

Full text of Directive 95/46 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data here.
Further reports and comments in the EU Observer, WSTM-TV and the Independent Online.
Naming of cats here.

Latest IPQ

Issue 2 for 2006 of the sweet little purple-and-white Intellectual Property Quarterly, published by Sweet & Maxwell, has now been published. The IPKat notes some jolly good stuff in it too, even if the IPQ is following the modern trend of allowing articles to carry titles that are almost as long as the articles themselves.

Catherine Seville (right) has written a challenging and entertaining piece on how copyright policymakers can learn more from 19th century history than from contemporary economics;Duncan Matthews has fastened his steely intellect on shifts in TRIPs policy regarding affordable access to expensive medicines. Then there's Muriel Lightbourne, on the implementation of the FAO treaty and IP rights. Not to forget pieces by Jakkrit Kuanpoth (patents and access to medicine in Thailand) and Arye Schreiber (a plea for English law to grow up and recognise a tort of invasion of privacy) ...


  1. "Given the choice, the IPKat would prefer to know his flight was terrorist-free, even if it meant him ending up on a mailing list which delivered him unwanted advertisements."

    That's not really the choice you are given, is it? The lack of adequate protection for your personal information does not guarantee a safe flight.

  2. You are of course true. The IPKat should have said that he would prefer to know that his flight was free of all known terrorists who travel under their own names and who volunteer the correct personal information to the authorities at or before the time of embarkation. Fortunately for readers of this blog, he's not so pedantic :-)

  3. The 9/11 attackers travelled under their own names and were known to the authorities, Jeremy, so I'm afraid that won't gaurantee a safe flight either. Although it is a somewhat intuitively attractive notion to believe that gathering more data on everyone will make the bad guys easier to find, it turns out to be false. Throwing more hay on the haystack actually makes the needles more difficult to find. Targetted intelligence data gathering is a more more effective process.


All comments must be moderated by a member of the IPKat team before they appear on the blog. Comments will not be allowed if the contravene the IPKat policy that readers' comments should not be obscene or defamatory; they should not consist of ad hominem attacks on members of the blog team or other comment-posters and they should make a constructive contribution to the discussion of the post on which they purport to comment.

It is also the IPKat policy that comments should not be made completely anonymously, and users should use a consistent name or pseudonym (which should not itself be defamatory or obscene, or that of another real person), either in the "identity" field, or at the beginning of the comment. Current practice is to, however, allow a limited number of comments that contravene this policy, provided that the comment has a high degree of relevance and the comment chain does not become too difficult to follow.

Learn more here: http://ipkitten.blogspot.com/p/want-to-complain.html

Powered by Blogger.