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Europe

MEPs Issue Commission Ultimatum on Data Transfer to U.S.

MEPs have warned the European Commission that unless it announces the withdrawal of the EU-U.S. passenger data transfer agreement by Monday, it will vote the next day to refer the matter to court.

The decision was taken after a discussion between the parliament’s group leaders on Thursday. "Although many of us feel that Parliament's position on the issue of seeking a Court ruling is clear, we decided to request a statement by the Commission on Monday on the issue", UK MEP and Liberal group leader Graham Watson said. The European Parliament has expressed concerns in the past months over the legality of air passenger data transfers to the U.S. The EU-U.S. deal allows the U.S. to retrieve 34 categories of data such as addresses, date of birth and credit card numbers. After the 11 September attacks in 2001, the US requested airlines to provide it with electronic access to information fields from the Passenger Name Record (PNR). Although the EU and U.S. last December agreed on an interim arrangement allowing the US access to passenger data on transatlantic flights, some major airline companies had been supplying the US with passengers' information since March 2003 as they would have otherwise faced fines or been denied landing rights in the U.S. (EUobserver.com)

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