European Parliament tries to quash passenger data deal

The European Parliament has filed a request with the highest court of the European Union (E.U.) to quash a deal to hand over sensitive airline passenger data to U.S. authorities.

The European Court of Justice said Friday that the European Parliament had formally lodged requests to annul two decisions under which E.U. airlines would transfer a range of data on airline passengers to the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection.

If the court decides to back the Parliament and declares the deal illegal, airlines could face legal challenges from individuals and organizations who oppose the U.S. receiving this data.

The assembly has also asked the court to give its verdict under a special fast-track procedure which could mean the court reaching a judgement within three months.

The European Parliament agreed in March this year to launch a legal challenge to a deal struck between the European Commission, the E.U.’s member states and the U.S. authorities to hand over airline passenger data, claiming that the agreement broke E.U. data protection rules. The U.S. insisted on receiving this information as part of measures to increase security in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

However, members of the European Parliament objected to the scope of information included in the data and demanded that sensitive items, such as a passengers’ meal choices, should be removed.

The European Parliament’s aim is to have the deal declared illegal and to force the U.S. to renegotiate the terms of the agreement. But the European Commission has warned that it has already obtained the best possible deal with the U.S. and that Washington will not make any further concessions.

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