Apr 18 2010

DHS “update” still misstates compliance with EU agreement on PNR data

At the meeting of the LIBE (civil liberties) committee of the European Parliament on the 7th of April, a representative of the European Commission announced that the EC will shortly be releasing a report on the second closed-door EC-DHS joint review of DHS compliance with the current “agreement” on DHS access to and use of PNR data related to flights between the EU and USA.

We haven’t yet seen this report of the second joint review, although drafts of an EU report on the joint review and the DHS response to the EU draft have been posted by Statewatch. But since the first joint review in 2005, the DHS has published two reports — one in December 2008 and an update in February 2010 — on its own self-assessment and claims of compliance with the agreement, and we have studied  them carefully..

These 2008 and 2010 DHS reports are seriously misleading and contain significant legal and factual misstatements.  Their inaccuracy makes clear that DHS claims cannot be relied on without independent verification. The willingness of the DHS to publish such false claims calls into question the good faith of DHS participation in the joint review, and reinforces the need for a truly independent review including an audit of DHS actions by technical experts with access to legal process to compel full access to DHS records.

It’s not for us, as Americans, to tell European politicians what policies they should adopt. Nonetheless, as Americans who have systematically tested what happens when travellers attempt to access PNR data about themselves held by the DHS, and what happens when they attempt to complain about misuse of PNR data by the DHS, we think it is important for Europeans not to be misled about the status of DHS compliance or noncompliance with the current DHS-EU “agreement” on PNR data.

Here’s what we can say about the current situation, and about the claims in the 2008 and 2010 DHS reports regarding compliance with the agreement. Read More