Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Occasional rant by Blog owner!

My wife and I have a newspaper each every morning, which we read over breakfast. Most mornings produce a rant from Michael, which she endures politely. I have decided to have an occasional rant on my blog. If you don’t want to read it, don’t. If you wish to comment, be my guest.

A sneaky announcement on December 29th (after the New Year holiday had started) revealed that the EU had wimpishly given in to the demands of the US government over transatlantic flight passenger information. Well, I say announcement, but in fact it was only revealed after a Freedom of Information release, forced by the Tories.

Under this deal, airlines will provide the US Government with 34 pieces of information on people flying into the USA. This information will include name & home address; email address, telephone number and credit card details. This last will not only show which card has been used, but will allow the US government to access the credit card account.

Although the justification for this invasion of privacy is anti-terrorism, the US Government reserves the right to look for other sorts of alleged violations of US law. Not EU law or British law – US law. Some two dozen US agencies will have access to this data and the US Government reserves the right to share information with “foreign” governments.

In my opinion the EU should immediately insist on reciprocity. Every US citizen flying into the EU should have to provide the same 34 bits of information. Plus they should have their fingerprints taken, pictures taken and be finally and ritually humiliated by having to provide a DNA sample. The EU should also insist on a visa, although we will waive that under a visa-waiver scheme. Sound familiar?

However, the EU is pretty gutless at the best of times and the UK no longer has the power to go its own way. But just in case any US readers think their privacy is safe, their government is going to “encourage” US airlines flying into the EU to provide the information anyway.

I have spent many happy times in the USA. I did a rough count the other day; since 1958 I have made over 50 visits to that great country. I don’t think I will be visiting again. Shame

1 comment:

CarrolP said...

Don't think we will either. Have just cancelled our spring visit to the Land of the Free to see friends on the basis of this article.