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EU Parliament Endorses New Air-Traveler Data Accord With U.S.

The European Parliament approved an agreement on the transfer of airline-passenger information to the U.S. to guard against the threat of terrorism.

The European Union assembly endorsed a seven-year accord enabling airlines in Europe to give the U.S. Department of Homeland Security data about trans-Atlantic travelers without violating EU privacy rules. The 19 pieces of information, known as the “passenger name record,” include the seat number, reservation date, payment method and travel itinerary.

The deal given the green light today in Strasbourg, France, will let the U.S. government keep the information on each traveler for as long as 15 years. After that, data retained must be “fully anonymized” by deleting all information that could serve to identify a passenger.

The accord will replace one that has been in force provisionally since 2007. The absence of an agreement would leave airlines such as Air France-KLM Group and Deutsche Lufthansa AG in legal limbo, potentially forcing them to choose between violating EU or U.S. law.

The 2007 agreement was a revised version of an initial 2004 accord that the EU high court struck down because the information-transfer system was based on European economic rather than anti-terror legislation. All the agreements stem from U.S. efforts to fight terrorism after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

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