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‘Big brother’ style surveillance or issue of national security

‘Big brother’ style surveillance or issue of national security

The European Parliament adopted a controversial bill allowing the US Department of Homeland Security to access personal data of airline passengers travelling from Europe to the United States. This agreement is applicable to airlines operating flights between any of the 27 EU countries and the US and allows the Homeland Security to gather data on the Passenger Name Record (PNR).

Opponents and critics of the agreement are calling it an invasion of privacy that can lead to false accusations and arrests, whereas defenders say this measure will ensure greater security, not only for the US, but for the European countries as well.

The bill was passed with 409 MEPs voting in favor and 226 against. It is interesting to note that the European Parliament has been trying for years to scale back agreements that would allow the United States to access and store passengers’ data, however in 2012 the chamber finally voted in favor of the revised bill.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been pulling passengers’ data from airline companies since 2007 and has made several demands to the European Commission to accept a bill that obliges all companies to upgrade their computer systems, making the information more easily available for U.S. authorities.

Nevertheless, there is still widespread criticism among some MEPs claiming that there is "no evidence" that the "disproportionate" measures would do anything to ensure greater security.

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