back to article EU squeals over US pre-flight personal data grab

EU officials are crying foul over Department of Homeland Security attempts to impose draconian and invasive data requirements on passengers travelling to the US. The US demands, however, are remarkably similar to the ones the EU itself proposes to make of passengers travelling to Europe, making the officials shouting "blackmail …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will Gordon jump?

    Britain has a long and dishonourable history of making unilateral deals with the Bush administration - our appalling lop-sided extradition treaty overseen by Blunkett and our kowtowing to American refusals to deal with the court in the Hague being just two.

    I'd be amazed if the Home Office as part of its 'Building a Safe Just and Tolerant Society*' schtick wasn't gagging to hand over this data and more - yes much, much more - absolutely free - to the DoHS**.

    * I couldn't find that fine piece of strategy boutiquery on their site - perhaps not even the Home Secretary can say it and keep a straight face.

    ** Assuming of course the DoHS hasn't already received a pair of mislabelled CDs.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    I'm all for bilateral symmetry

    Sure, sign away, on one condition: methods and restrictions must be identical on both sides of the fence, to wit:

    - unexpected and random searches of electronic equipment, including but not limited to copying information to aid EU industrial espionage and removal of equipment for multiple days to months and erasure of log files where it can be assured it will hide evidence of malice or where it's simply causing the most trouble. Lock up those who don't give their password, and assume that everyone with Truecrypt installed is not telling you the REAL password you need.

    - full biometrics from 10 fingers to full endoscopy (not neccesarily in that order) of every US passport carrying person. I know this is a bit overkill, but let's get ahead for a change and every one to bend over. It beats removing shoes for hassle (and smell).

    - calling everyone from the US alien. It's sometimes just a matter of detail.

    - detailed investigations of anyone who looks even remotely suspicious. That includes people that still look fresh after a 14h flight, everyone else will look like a criminal on the database so let's level the playing field there - they're also first out of the plane so it's a good idea to sideline them immediately.

    - define regulations that maximise the queue in front of the "US passports only" line. If there are less than 50 people waiting and only one machine is left operational, tea and/or shopping breaks are compulsory. Tea breaks must be in full sight of those waiting. For those returning to the US, delays must be timed that flights are missed by mere seconds. Gates must close if any of them escape early.

    - last but not least, ensure that only parking guards are employed. Only they are able to evoke the same kind of feeling that a visitor to the US feels when treated like some kind of dumb animal.

    Did I mention I have recently decided not to travel there anymore?

    Mine's the one with the chains and skull..

  3. Alexander Hanff

    re: Will Gordon jump

    I am not sure if you understand the article; the UK is already one of the countries eligible for the Visa Waiver so my understanding is this new move by the DHS would not have any effect or involve the UK in any way.

    Also extradition-wise you will be hard pressed to find a significant number of extraditions from the UK to the US. In fact as someone threatened with extradition to the US (for an alleged civil offence as opposed to criminal I hasten to add) my government told me specifically that it would never happen and that in general the UK don't like to play extradition with the US because the US simply refuse to meet similar requests from the UK (or any other country for that matter). As far as the government are concerned (and yes I got this information directly from my MP on his House of Commons phone) until the US start playing fair and allow US citizens to be extradited to the UK, they have no interest in extraditing British citizens to the US. Of course this doesn't mean it never happens, but it is much less frequent than it could be.

  4. Steve Browne

    Of course Gordon will jump!

    We can only hope the Scots vote for independence in Alex' referendum and the Scottish mafia can withdraw back behind their newly installed border posts.

    I wonder if protecting the English from Scottish misrule was what he had in mind.

  5. Alexander Hanff

    re: Steve Browne

    Read my previous post, the UK public are already permitted to submit Visa Waiver forms when visiting the US so they would not be effected by this latest DHS policy.

  6. Shabble

    Brown is English now!

    I'm afraid a vote of Scottish independence would mean you'd be stuck with Brown. He's as popular as a fart in an elevator north of the border! Brown would simply be parachuted into a safe Labour seat in England. Anyway, Brown has effectively been an English resident for 10 years, so that means he could apply for Engish nationality!

  7. John Lettice (Written by Reg staff)

    re: Steve Browne

    Alexander, you've missed a critical point about ETA - it IS the future of the VWP, as far as the US is concerned. As and when the US demands ETA compliance, the EU countries who're currently in the VWP will need to adopt ETA if they want to stay in. Otherwise, they have to go back to visas.

    Regrettably, you're also not entirely right about extradition. The UK end of the 2003 extradition treaty simply requires that the US come up with an allegation and a warrant. The requirements are sufficiently narrow for there to be very little leeway for the UK courts, although the subjects naturally tend to try to appeal all the way. Gary McKinnon is currently appealing to the Lords, while Babar Ahmad's case is being considered by the European Court of Human Rights. The Natwest three ran out of road.

  8. John A Blackley

    Does he mean........?

    "EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini reiterated this, (called) on the EU and the US to work together to set up a compatible system."

    So does he mean the US system? (Half-specced, feature poor but delivered in 11 months and requiring you to patch it for the rest of the system's life.) Or does he mean the EU system? (In analysis for twenty months, developed by five different agencies - none of which are accountable to their employers, and delivered three years late and 3,000% over budget.)

    Or perhaps a combination of these two?

  9. kain preacher

    I love random american bashing

    The article says EU already has a similar a system, but since America is doing it its wrong

  10. Alexander Hanff

    John Lettice

    But the point is this currently only effects countries not in the VWP system and when it eventually does take over from VWP it is very unlikely Brown will be in number 10 it is equally more unlikely that Bush will be in the Oval Office. My point was Brown won't be involved.

    On extradition, yes we have a treaty, but our Government don't like to abide by it for exactly the reasons I explained above. Of course my MP could have just been talking out of his jacksie.

  11. Dave
    Black Helicopters

    Let's be fair

    Why not fingerprint all people arriving from the US who aren't EU citizens. I remember the outcry when Brazil did it and have fond memories of a US interviewee who was outraged at having to wait in line for 45 minutes. Mind you, arriving back at Gatwick one day I was impressed by the size of the non-EU queue, so I guess we can match them on that one, especially as my most recent arrival in the US probably only took about 30 minutes from aircraft to clearing customs.

    Seeing as I object to giving people my personal data regardless of nationality, and dislike the notion that I have to have official permission to fly, perhaps we ought to hijack the black helicopters and arrange that all politicians and government officials have to get the permission of the electorate before they are allowed to travel.

  12. John
    Black Helicopters

    Crazy Stuff

    I'm just glad I've done all my travelling in Europe and the US. There's no way I'm bothering with all this "anti terror" crap.

  13. Chris Hamilton
    Paris Hilton

    @ Steve Browne

    How did you manage to turn a discussion about the US Visa Waiver Programme and how Uncle Sam intends to bribe new entrants into casual racism against the Scots?

    BTW, (and to quote an old playground phrase "You started it") as England is a well known purveyor of some of the worlds finest Islamic terrorists (remember Richard Read, those chaps from Aylesbury, Luton and Brum?), and has a great knack of convincing other countries residents to take up arms (Northern Ireland anyone? Crikey even your own county of Cornwall wants out.) Do you think the USofA is that keen to even have you in the VWP?

    Paris, because I'd waive her visa anyday of the week. :-)

  14. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Dark ages a-coming

    Unfortunately, the current Western regimes have become drunk with their power and the lure of technology to fulfil their wet paranoid dreams of knowing and controlling everything about everyone. There is no perceptible force in operation that would counterbalance that idiotic drive at the moment so it looks like we have no option but to hold on and be taken for the ride.

    In a few years or decades time the ecstasy will run its course and disappear, leaving multiple examples of systems failing, data stolen, lives ruined and powers abused. That will be the subject of the new revolution or backlash, which will hopefully lead to things like wanton surveilance, personal data gathering, DRMs etc. be recognised as uncompatible with the word "civilised" and outlawed and new checks and balances introduced at the Govt and legislative levels.

    Until then it's going to get worse before it gets better.

  15. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Will no-one think of the ...?

    The solution is obvious. Just don't let anyone fly anywhere. At a stroke you will have ensured an end to internation terrrrism, saved the planet, and annoyed that part of the population which is most likely to sell *our* personal data in order to make *their* travel arrangements more comfortable.

    As for "..." I was going to say environment, but then I realised that this measure would also put an end to sex tourism, so how could anyone possibly oppose it?

  16. TrishaD

    @ Chris Hamilton

    While I'm happy to tut tut casual racism .....


    ' (Northern Ireland anyone? Crikey even your own county of Cornwall wants out.) Do you think the USofA is that keen to even have you in the VWP?'

    Remember NORAID? Provision of finance and armaments to the peace-loving IRA by US citizens. Something that the White House turned a blind eye to .....

    Some allies...

  17. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Re: Dark ages a-coming

    "the new revolution or backlash, which will hopefully lead to things like wanton surveilance, personal data gathering, DRMs etc. be recognised as uncompatible with the word "civilised" and outlawed and new checks and balances introduced at the Govt and legislative levels"

    Actually the US constitution already does pretty much all of that. The trouble starts when both sides of the political establishment agree on the need to ignore the law "on this occasion". Then you need judges prepared to take on democratically elected politicians, and those are hard to come by.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I stopped visiting Bushland some years ago because of their approach....

    For the time being and probably several years to come, I have written off going to the US. As much as I want to return and see their fair homeland, US paranoia and arrogance leaves me cold. I don't want to be treated this way, I'm not an alien. My last visit was in 2002. Security over there were total imbeciles and shambolic. It's probably much worse now.

    Hello whose this entering the room....."step away from your computer sir"..

  19. Mark

    Re: I stopped visiting Bushland ...

    I've told work (and customers if they've asked) that I will not travel to the US. Even if it was for "training" (i.e. a jollie).

    It's all round simpler because I *know* that if one of the slope-heads in security says something dumb like "are you a terrorist" I'll say something smart like "no, are you hiring" and then it's a mutual head-kicking contest which I'll lose because there's only one of me while they try to show how much of a lack of sense of humour they've got.

    And if my trousers have to come off at some point, murder will be done.

    Unless she's cute and gets her kit off too. I'm not *totally* unreasonable...

    So it's best I don't go and it's best then that I make sure I don't mislead my employer by keeping quiet about conditions that are not open for negotiation.

  20. Lord-a-miytee
    Black Helicopters

    Re: I stopped visiting Bushland ...

    Interesting. i've *also* told my employer i'll not go to the USA. i felt oddly like a 'conscientious objector' as i did it. My manager's fine with this. Funniest thing is that my employer is a USA company. (They didn't hire me, by the way. They bought me. Along with half the company i worked for. In that truly democratic tradition we've all come to know, we had no vote.)


  21. Robert Brockway

    ETA - That sounds familiar

    It's interesting to note that the proposed American ETA shares the acronym and function of the Electronic Travel Authority that Australia has been using since 1996. Travel agents and airlines usually take care of the registering the ETA transparently but it can be done online as well.

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