US tells Swiss to hand over passenger data
swissinfo September 5, 2003 7:12 PM
Passengers travelling to the US could soon be forced to hand over more personal information.
The United States has issued Switzerland's national airline, Swiss, with an ultimatum to comply with new regulations demanding greater information on incoming passengers.
Swiss has until September 12 to adhere to the regulation or face losing its landing rights in the US, according to Urs Haldimann from the Swiss Civil Aviation Office.
This might be an explanation for why the US is asking (demanding according to the Swiss press)airlines from outside the US to provide us with information on passenger lists.
Hijack Warning As Sept 11 Anniversary Nears
Sep 5, 2003
A warning that Al-Qaeda terrorists are still developing plans to take control of passenger planes flying over the United States has come from the country's security authorities.
A Department of Homeland Security Advisory says that a growing body of credible intelligence indicates Al-Qaeda continues to develop plans for multiple attacks against targets in the US involving commercial aircraft, with some plans calling for hijacking airliners transiting near or flying over the continental United States - but not destined to land at US airports.
The advisory has been issued as the second anniversary of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington approaches.
Intelligence has shown that terrorists have been studying which countries have the least restrictive entry requirements. That, says the advisory, could make it easier for potential hijackers to board planes and take control in order to crash into targets in the US.
The Department also lists potential targets in areas other than aviation but says it has no hard information about Al-Qaeda plans.
The advisory says: "Based on recent... information leading up to the September 11th anniversary, we remain concerned about Al-Qaeda's continued efforts to plan multiple attacks against the US and US interests overseas. However, at this time, we have no specific information on individual targets or dates for any attack."
Update on the US requesting passenger information:
Europe Refuses Airline Passenger Information
Sep 5, 2003
The European Commission has rebuffed US requests for airlines to provide detailed information about passengers as part of new anti-terrorism measures.
The US demands would, say the Commission, violate European rules on privacy.
According to the EC, the US has failed to provide binding commitments that personal data obtained from airline passengers could not be abused in violation of the EU's relevant laws on confidentiality.
Since March this year, the US government has been collecting personal information such as names, food preferences and itineraries from US-bound passengers. The Commission believes that this anti-terror practise could breach the EU's data protection laws.
Meanwhile, Finland's flag carrier, Finnair, has announced that it will bow to US demands and provide information on all passengers travelling to overseas destinations, including credit card numbers and choice of meal, reports EurActiv.
The airline says it has been forced to comply. Finnair maintains that no privacy laws will be broken because it will ask customers permission to pass on the information. However, granting permission is a condition of purchasing a ticket.
Frits Bolkestein, the Commissioner in charge of customs issues, is due to discuss the sensitive issue with US Homeland Security officials later this month.
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