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US makes concessions over flight data

Swiss has the most to gain or lose Keystone

Washington has softened its demands on handing over personal information on passengers flying with Swiss airlines to the United States.

This content was published on November 19, 2004 - 16:12

The Federal Office for Civil Aviation (FOCA) said on Friday that the US had made a proposal which could pave the way for an agreement to be signed by the end of the year.

The US plan resembles an accord reached between Washington and the European Union earlier this year as part of heightened security efforts to combat terrorism.

The deal would provide US officials with access to 34 different types of information which can be stored for up to three and a half years.

No sensitive data

This would include name, address and credit card number but not sensitive data such as medical information or dietary preferences.

The FOCA said Switzerland had also ensured that, as part of the deal, the US authorities would not have automatic access to the data and that passengers would first have to sign an agreement of understanding at the time of purchasing their tickets.

In the first half of 2003, US officials began demanding that all European airlines hand over passenger data or face losing their landing rights at US airports.

The move was part of a raft of security measures following the September 11 attacks on the US in 2001.

The Swiss government resisted, saying the US regulation would force Swiss airlines to break Switzerland’s data protection codes.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The US increased security measures following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
The first discussions between Swiss and US authorities on flight data were held in the middle of 2003.

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