Lovers of liberty have found an unlikely ally in the European Court of Justice. The European Union’s highest court has ruled that the European Council overstepped its authority by agreeing to provide the U.S. government with personal details about America-bound airline passengers, according to The New York Times [registration required].
The 34 categories of information that the feds want include names, addresses, phone numbers, travel itineraries, and credit card numbers.
Privacy proponents point out that the U.S. government can’t be trusted to safeguard the personal information. A federal official has admitted as much. Kip Hawley, Director of the Transportation Security Administration, acknowledged in Congressional testimony that the snoops at his agency can’t guarantee the protection of passengers’ privacy. His point was underscored earlier in May when the names and Social Security numbers of 26.5 million American veterans were stolen from a VA employee’s home, where they weren’t supposed to be in the first place; the theft was covered up for almost two weeks.
As for the government’s grab for passengers’ personal data points, Department of Homeland Security spokesman Jarrod Agen dismisses privacy concerns. Agen says that his agency can just request the same information from passengers arriving in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Or maybe they could just try more of that warrantless eavesdropping.