EU greenlights US passenger data deal
(BRUSSELS) - European Union ministers approved a deal with the United States on Tuesday to allow US authorities to keep airline passengers' personal data for 15 years, after a privacy outcry in Europe.
Home affairs ministers from the 27-nation bloc agreed an accord negotiated between Washington and the EU's executive arm for two years to find a compromise aimed at satisfying European Parliament concerns over privacy rights.
The deal will still have to be approved by the parliament.
It will allow the United States to sift through the data for 15 years for terrorism-related investigations. After that period the information must be deleted.
But to soothe concerns in the European parliament, it reduces the amount of time that information can be looked at for serious crimes, such as drug and human trafficking, to 10 years instead of 15.
A previous draft deal, leaked in May, was heavily criticised by Euro MPs concerned about letting US investigators peer at personal information such as names, credit card numbers and addresses for 15 years.
Under the new deal, the personal data of a passenger sent to US authorities would become "anonymous" after six months, meaning that the person's name and contact information would be masked out but available in case of an inquiry.
The data would remain in an "active" database easily accessible to US officials for five years, and then move to a "dormant" database where stricter conditions for access would apply.
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