[pp.int.general] EFF: European Lawmaker Sues U.S. Agencies to Obtain Travel-Related and Other Personal Information
sjau at sjau.ch
Tue Jul 1 19:49:05 CEST 2008
Here's a nice article on EFF today:
As you may be aware, just a few days ago it was made public thatthat the U.S.
and the European Union may soon make an agreement on exchanging travel data.
Anyway, here's the article. On the homepage you also have links to the full
complaint and other related things:
European Lawmaker Sues U.S. Agencies to Obtain Travel-Related and Other
Lawsuit Tests U.S. Assurances of Access Rights for EU Citizens
Washington, D.C. - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit on
behalf of a member of the European Parliament today, demanding that the U.S.
government release records about her "risk assessment" score and other
information gathered about her during her international travels. The lawsuit
comes just days after the disclosure that the U.S. and the European Union may
soon finalize an agreement authorizing the transatlantic exchange of large
amounts of personal data.
Sophia In 't Veld represents the Netherlands in the European Parliament and
serves on the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs. She
has been actively engaged in developing policies concerning the exchange of
travelers' data between the U.S. and the European Union (EU).
During the ongoing and contentious debates between the U.S. and the EU over
travelers' records and the privacy rights of EU citizens, the U.S. government
has repeatedly claimed that any person can obtain her records through a
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. To test those assurances, In 't
Veld filed FOIA requests with the Homeland Security, Justice, and State
Departments, asking for any information about her that is included in the
various U.S. programs and systems used to track international travelers.
However, the agencies have failed to comply with the requests as required by
"The question of redress is the sticking point in the current discussions
about data exchanges between the United States and the EU," said In 't
Veld. "That dispute underscores the importance of this case; it shows that
gaining access to personal data held by U.S. agencies is very difficult, if
Among other records, In 't Veld specifically requested data about herself that
is included in the Automated Targeting System (ATS) -- a Department of
Homeland Security project that creates and assigns "risk assessment" scores
to travelers as they enter and leave the U.S. Once the assessment is made,
there is no way to challenge it, and the government will retain the
information for many years -- as well as make it available to federal, state,
local, and foreign agencies in addition to contractors, grantees,
consultants, and others.
"Ms. In 't Veld's experience shows the inaccuracy of U.S. assurances that EU
citizens can gain easy access to personal information held in agency
databases," said EFF Senior Counsel David Sobel. "The truth is that it is
virtually impossible for any individuals --even U.S. citizens -- to access
information about themselves that is collected and maintained by American
security agencies. It's important that EU officials and citizens understand
the reality of the situation before moving forward with a sweeping agreement
on the exchange of sensitive personal data."
This FOIA lawsuit is part of EFF's ongoing work to protect travelers from
privacy-invasive programs at the U.S. border. EFF has also filed suit against
DHS for denying access to public records on the questioning and searches of
travelers at U.S. borders and called on Congress to investigate the random,
suspicionless searches of laptops and electronic devices.
PGP Public Key: http://www.sjau.ch/sjau_sjau_ch.asc
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