Belgian DPA investigates transfer of passenger data

By EDRi · June 4, 2003

Following a complaint from European parliament member Marco Cappato the
Belgian data protection office is investigating a possible violation of
European privacy law by the airline carriers Continental Airlines and
United Airlines. Mr Cappato sent a letter to the Belgian data protection
commissioner urging his office to investigate the transfer of his personal
data to the US authorities. These so-called PNR data are sent to the US
authorities by airlines following an agreement between US Customs and the
European Commission. This agreement is considered unlawful by many observers.

The Belgian data protection office has told Mr Cappato that “The commission
contacted the companies concerned, in order to obtain information
concerning the implementation of a system of transfer to the American
authorities of the personal data of their passengers travelling towards the
United States. The Commission also asked these companies to indicate the
detail of the transmitted data, their mode of transmission, which
information has been communicated to you in this respect as well as the
information generally communicated to each passenger concerned, as well as
the fact of knowing if the passenger is made able to agree voluntarily or
to oppose the transfer.”

Mr Cappato used one of the model letters that European Digital Rights
offers for download on its website. The model letters are part of EDRI’s
campaign against the illegal transfer of airline passenger data.

EDRI campaign against the transfer of PNR-data to the USA