US homeland security officials on Wednesday defended a draft airline passenger information sharing agreement which European MPs could veto over privacy concerns, saying such data had foiled terror plots, writes AFP.
The European Parliament blocked a previous agreement between the United States and the 27-state EU, forcing the two sides to enter into negotiations that culminated with a draft agreement that was leaked online.
Some European lawmakers have said the 15 years that passenger data could be held by the United States is too long and definitions for what constitutes a terror threat or a serious transnational crime are very vague.
But Mary Ellen Callahan, chief privacy officer for the US Department of Homeland Security, said three audits had shown information had not been abused and refuted allegations that its powers could be “disproportionate.”
Suggestions from Europe that the United States should “only collect information from the people you need to collect information from, for example the bad guys — the criminals,” were flawed, she told a congressional sub-committee.
“We don’t know who all the bad guys are. We have unknown terrorists out there,” Callahan said in testimony at a hearing on intelligence sharing and terrorist travel.
For some concrete examples of terror plots discovered using passenger data, click HERE.