EU Air Passenger Tracking Takes Step to Reality in Panel Vote

  • U.S.-inspired law would enable monitoring of terror suspects
  • EU Parliament set for final vote on tracking law in early 2016

A European air passenger data-tracking system moved closer to becoming reality on Thursday after winning the approval of a parliamentary panel.

The European Parliament’s civil liberties committee voted 38-19 in favor of the system, which would require airlines to disclose passenger data on flights to, from and within the 28-nation European Union.

Inspired by anti-terror steps in the U.S. after the 9/11 attacks, the European law would stop short of forcing EU governments to share or pool the data, a potential flaw in a system meant to hunt down suspects who slip across borders. EU nations have already signed off on the measure.

“Some people here argued for a mandatory arrangement -- what we actually got is almost that,” Timothy Kirkhope, a British Conservative in the Parliament who negotiated the compromise, told reporters. “Anything which is relevant and helpful will be exchanged.”

Eight years in the making, the EU law will come up for a final vote in the parliament in January or February. It could then take a year for the monitoring to get under way.

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