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An assessment of the EU-US travel surveillance agreement

Publication date: 
03-Jan-2012

This is a memo prepared by Barry Steinhardt of Friends of Privacy USA for Members of the European Parliament regarding the proposed EU-US Agreement PNR.

The proposed agreement regarding Passenger Name Records (PNR) between the United States and the European Union is riddled with faulty assertions and assumptions about US law and the actual operations of the US government.

These faulty assertions and assumptions go to the heart of the agreement and undercut the claims of protections for European travelers.

As an American lawyer with substantial experience on the PNR and related issues, I want to set the record straight for the European officials who must act on the proposed agreement.

This memo highlights the most serious of those faulty claims and assumptions.

Note on the author

Barry Steinhardt is the founder of Friends of Privacy USA a new NGO which focuses on America’s compliance with international privacy principles and its engagement on privacy with the international community.

Steinhardt retired in 2009 after a nearly 30 year career with the American Civil was previously the Director of the ACLU's Program on Technology and Liberty. Prior to leading that new program, Steinhardt served as Associate Director of the ACLU. He is a member of the Data Privacy and Integrity Committee of the Department of Homeland Security. Steinhardt is a Trustee of Privacy International. He Chairs the Steering Committee for the Computers Freedom and Privacy Conferences and serves on the Board of the ACLU of Virginia.

He has served on a wide variety of panels and Boards, including the Department of Transportation’s Negotiated Rule Making on national driver’s license standards, the Advisory Committee to the US Census, the Blue Ribbon Panel on Genetics of the National Conference of State Legislatures. In 1998, Steinhardt took a leave of absence from the ACLU to serve as President of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.