The US Automated Targeting System (ATS) falls short of the undertakings given by the US to comply with the strict European rules on data protection and privacy.
In a letter addressed to US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, ECTAA and GEBTA have expressed strong opposition against the ATS operated by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) authorities, which screens all travel records of passengers entering or exiting the US for possible criminal or terrorist threat.
Many travel industry partners worldwide share the concerns expressed by ECTAA/GEBTA about the violation of security and privacy of personal data of millions of people traveling to the US.
The most worrying aspects of ATS are:
The collection of personal data of travelers without their consent;
The sharing of these data with other government bodies and third parties;
The retention of these data for 40 years;
The citizen’s inability to access and correct inaccuracies in their personal data.
ECTAA/GEBTA are in particular concerned about the fact that the data-mining system may not be in conformity with undertakings given by the US in the frame of the EU-US agreement on the processing and transfer of passenger name record (PNR) data by air carriers to the CBP.
Said President of GEBTA, Mr. Paulo Piras: “The ATS may jeopardize the EU-US PNR agreement, which is vital for the travel industry as it provides a clear legal framework for the transfer of PNR data in compliance with EU laws”.
ECTAA/GEBTA have requested the immediate suspension of the ATS programme. ECTAA President, Mr. Jan Van Steen, commented: “Guarantees must be given by the US administration, that any data collected, processed, used and stored from EU travelers meet the strict privacy and data protection rules applicable in the EU.”
Date of publication: 18/12/06