The European Union and Australia plan an anti-terrorism agreement that will give Canberra access to private data on air passengers coming from the 27-nation bloc, EU diplomats said on Thursday.
The deal will be similar to those reached with the United States and Canada as part of anti-terrorism plans after the September 11, 2001, attacks on US cities.
European airlines currently give Washington access to 19 pieces of passenger data, including address and credit card details, 72 hours before departure. This can be kept for 15 years. EU airlines also send passenger information to Canada.
"We are working on a mandate to allow the European Commission and the European Union Presidency to negotiate an agreement with Australia," an EU diplomat said on Thursday, adding that the EU would try to adopt the mandate this month.
"We are seeking a very high level of protection of personal data," another diplomat said, adding that it would be more stringent than the deal struck with the United States.
Separately, EU diplomats this week started work on plans for the bloc to build up its own system obliging airlines from all non-EU countries to provide 19 pieces of personal data at least 24 hours before departure. This would be stored for 13 years.
Talks on data protection and on the legal basis for such a system are sensitive, as well as the issue of whether and how to involve EU lawmakers in the decision.
Slovenia, which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, says it will be in place in the first half of next year at the earliest.
On top of this proposal, the EU's executive Commission will propose a register collecting biometric information on all travelers entering and leaving the bloc, plus a form to be filled in by air travelers on the Internet a few days before flying to the EU. (Reuters)
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