US Wants to Expand Air Passenger Data Collection

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The United States is seeking to expand the collection of passenger records from airlines to combat terrorism.

According to a report from Reuters, the U.S. is advocating for a new global aviation standard to be put in place by 2019, a request that is raising privacy concerns.

Counter-terrorism coordinator Nathan Sales apparently urged the United Nations’ aviation agency “to act with all deliberate speed” to develop a new standard that would significantly expand the number of countries that collect passenger information ranging from frequent flyer numbers to email addresses and credit card booking details, according to Reuters.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), however, does not have the ability to impose rules on governments. The body works by issuing safety and security standards, which are then made mandatory via domestic legislation being passed by its 192-member states.

The U.S. request comes after a 2017 U.N. Security Council Resolution that obligated countries to deter terrorist travel, Reuters reported.

ICAO typically takes several years to come up with new standards, making it unlikely it will meet a 2019 deadline.

“Time is of the essence. Terrorists aren’t waiting, so we can’t afford to wait either,” Sales told reporters at ICAO’s recent conference on aviation security. “We want other countries to have the same capabilities that we do.”

The airplane is flying towards the sky beautifully.: (Photo via flukyfluky / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Sharing passenger information such as names, travel dates, itineraries, and contact details has been the subject of much debate.

The director general of Mobility and Transport for the European Commission told Reuters that any such new ICAO standards would need to comply with Europe’s data protection rules.

Since the early 1990s, the United States has been requiring airlines to provide data about bookings before departure. Information about passengers traveling to, from and over the United States is shared with a variety of government agencies including the Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

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