Cyprus Mail

Passenger information sharing to return for ratification

By Angelos Anastasiou

A EUROPEAN Union directive on inter-governmental airline-passenger information sharing, previously rejected by the Europarliament, has been redrafted by the European Council for individual member states to ratify, House Legal Affairs committee deputy chairman Rikkos Mappourides said on Wednesday.

Speaking after a committee session, Mappourides said “every politician in the country says ‘Je suis Charlie’ [a phrase expressing solidarity with the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre] but will not accept the restriction of individual rights like the United States did after September 11”.

He explained that the rejected directive is in the process of being updated by hundreds of amendments, and the government has stated its willingness to implement it, provided such information sharing does not infringe on individual rights.

The parliament, Mappourides said, will request input from the Data Protection Commissioner, noting that parliamentary parties agree that no social need can hinder the protection of individual rights.

“In any occasion, it must be safeguarded that information gathered can’t deviate from its stated intention,” he said.

AKEL deputy Aristos Damianou argued that after the terrorist act on the Twin Towers, human rights in the United States have been butchered.

He added that the release of information of airline passengers to the United States and Canada has already been deemed illegal, prompting the Europarliament to freeze the agreement, which has been brought back via inter-state treaties.

Damianou said the European Council officials appear to have been enamoured of profiling, but the huge bulk of personal data that will be gathered in case information exchange is adopted will be of dubious quality and may not serve the purpose for which it was gathered in the first place.

“The called-upon effort for protection from terrorism has crossed the red line of protecting human and individual rights,” Damianou said.

But, he noted, the Europarliament is resisting such an eventuality, and added that the Cypriot parliament also voices similar resistance.

“The growing tendency for reservations to be made online means that personal information will be transferred quite easily, resulting in mass profiling,” he said.

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