U.S. and Europe Near Agreement on Private Data
The New York Times, by Charlie Savage
WASHINGTON — The United States and the European Union are nearing completion of an agreement allowing law enforcement and security agencies to obtain private information — like credit card transactions, travel histories and Internet browsing habits — about people on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. The potential agreement, as outlined in an internal report obtained by The New York Times, would represent a diplomatic breakthrough for American counterterrorism officials, who have clashed with the European Union over demands for personal data. Europe generally has more stringent laws restricting how governments and businesses can collect and transfer such information. Negotiators, who have been meeting since February 2007, have largely agreed on draft language for 12 major issues central to a “binding international agreement,” the report said. The pact would make clear that it is lawful for European governments and companies to transfer personal information to the United States, and vice versa.
But the two sides are still at odds on several other matters, including whether European citizens should be able to sue the United States government over its handling of their personal data, the report said. The report, which lays out the progress of the talks and lists the completed draft language, was jointly written by the negotiators from the United States Homeland Security, Justice and State Departments, and by their European Union counterparts. The talks grew out of two conflicts over information-sharing after the September 2001 terrorist attacks. The United States government demanded access to customer data held by airlines flying out of Europe and by a consortium, known as Swift, which tracks global bank transfers. …
Published: June 28, 2008
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