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European Commission seeks to secure right of citizens to sue U.S. on use of data

April 7, 2010
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The European Commission is seeking the right for its citizens to sue in American courts if they believe that airline passenger data transmitted to the United States has been misused - part of a new bid to make protecting privacy compatible with fighting terror, said an International Herald Tribune report.
 
The Commission also plans to ask the U.S. attorney general, Eric Holder, and Homeland Security secretary, Janet Napolitano, to share similar data about American citizens headed to Europe.
 
The Commission said that any new agreement on data-sharing would have to uphold Europe's statutory privacy controls. Such an agreement needs to ''incorporate high standards for protecting E.U. citizens' privacy and their right to bring complaints to U.S. courts,'' the E.U. justice commissioner, Viviane Reding, said.
 
 Reding was seeking to publicize the commission's stance in order to mitigate criticism by the European Parliament and by privacy activists that it has been too ready to accept U.S. standards on privacy in the past, and to demonstrate that it would do more to assert European standards in the future, the report noted. At the same time, Brussels is seeking to enhance its stature as a guardian of European citizens' security.
 
Last month, Reding announced similar plans to develop a homegrown system to track terrorist finances to match an American system already in place. She said that such a system would require the United States to contribute information on American citizens' transactions. Previous deals with the United States on passenger name records - including names, addresses, phone numbers, itineraries and credit card numbers - had been opposed by privacy advocates in Europe.

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