Alex Blaze

Thank you for choosing American Airlines, and welcome to the Panopticon

Filed By Alex Blaze | July 25, 2007 11:33 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: international travel, Panopticon, privacy, United Kingdom

A new agreement between the UK and the US about the information the US will collect about British travelers to the US has been reached. From the Observer:

In a strongly worded document drawn up in response to the plan that will affect the 4 million-plus Britons who travel to the US every year, the EU parliament said it 'notes with concern that sensitive data (ie personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, and data concerning the health or sex life of individuals) will be made available to the DHS and that these data may be used by the DHS in exceptional cases'

The Observer also notes that this information will no longer have to be destroyed after three years, as with the previous rules; data can be kept for 15 years under the new rules. Oh, and the US obtained "the absolute right to pass the data on to third parties".

PinkNews investigates further:

Jo Swinson MP, Lib Dem spokesperson for women and equality, told

"That the EU could hand over sensitive information about transatlantic passengers, including sexual history, is deeply worrying.

"The Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament have been highly critical of this measure, which seems unnecessary and lacks any democratic legitimacy."

Today a Ministry of Justice official denied that any passengers will be asked about their sexual orientation under the new system.

Now, I don't see why this information is necessary for anything other than keeping undesirables out of the country. Unless that "absolute right" to pass this information along to third-parties means selling it to vendors and British junk mail distributors, which I really wouldn't put past this administration.

The rules don't apply to Americans traveling to Europe, and several ministers have expressed their doubt that the EU council will accept this because of their non-negotiable fundamental rights guarantees. Here's to hoping.

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