Department of Homeland Security Dodges Records' Disclosure
Washington DC - The FLAG Project at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today, demanding information about a new agreement on the handling of air passenger data from flights between the European Union (EU) and the United States.
Two years ago, the U.S. and EU made a controversial deal requiring airlines to give DHS access to detailed passenger information from EU flights to and from the U.S. In May, the European Court of Justice struck down the agreement, finding it at odds with EU law. But the U.S. and EU reached a new agreement last month that will give U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies greater access to the data than the previous deal did. EFF filed its suit after DHS failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records about the handling of data under the new agreement, including how they are maintained, used, disclosed, and secured.
"Travelers may give up a lot of personal information when they make flight reservations," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "Those traveling between Europe and the United States deserve to know who gets to see that data, how the information is protected, and whether those practices comply with EU law."
EFF's FLAG Project uses FOIA requests and litigation to expose the government's expanding use of technologies that invade privacy. Previous lawsuits have demanded information about the FBI's huge database of personal information, as well as records on the FBI's electronic surveillance systems.
"When federal agencies don't comply with the FOIA's requirements, they may conceal activities and programs that raise serious legal issues and put Americans' privacy at risk," said Hofmann. "The Department of Homeland Security must abide by the law and give the public information about the new passenger data agreement."
For the FOIA complaint filed against the Department of Homeland Security:
For more on the FLAG Project:
Electronic Frontier Foundation