Travel Safety & Security Update September 2005.


Data-sharing deal challenged by European Parliament. The European Parliament is challenging an agreement between Europe and the U.S. on sharing airline passenger information. The European Commission and EU governments in 2004 reached a deal with the U.S. to share data. The agreement stipulates that European airlines must turn over detailed personal data about passengers who travel to the U.S. The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg will hold hearings on the issue Oct. 18. Some members of European Parliament believe the agreement violates privacy laws. Sep 30, 2005

Homeland Security's first privacy officer steps down. The Department of Homeland Security's first chief privacy officer said she will leave her post for a position at General Electric. Nuala O'Connor Kelly played a role in delaying Secure Flight, an airline security program that gathers information about travelers by accessing commercial databases, according to privacy advocates. She also launched an investigation of JetBlue Airways, which turned over passenger records to the government for a security project. The Department of Homeland Security has named Maureen Cooney, O'Connor Kelly's chief of staff, as acting chief privacy officer. Sep 29, 2005

Should airlines turn off TVs during emergencies? Airlines face a difficult choice when deciding how much information to give passengers during an in-flight emergency, writes The Wall Street Journal's Scott McCartney. Satellite television, the Internet and cell phones give passengers the ability to learn more about emergencies as they occur. Sep 27, 2005

Feds end testing of Registered Traveler program. The Transportation Security Administration will end testing of the Registered Traveler program, which allowed some travelers to move through airport security quicker in exchange for providing personal information. The TSA will review the program, a spokeswoman said. However, some TSA officials do not want to expand the program. Critics say the program never became popular because it could only be used at the airport where participating travelers were registered. Sep 27, 2005

Feds should postpone Secure Flight screening testing. An advisory committee said the Transportation Security Administration should not test a screening plan matching airline passenger names against terrorist watch lists until it addresses privacy concerns. The TSA planned to start testing the Secure Flight program next month. The committee said the TSA did not specify how the technology will match the names or how it will address the possibility of false matches. Sep 26, 2005

United States immigration authorities are tightening up on one of their more daft so-called security innovations. From Tuesday October 4 all arrivals to that fine country will have to give precise details of their first night's accommodation. A full address including postal code will be required. And it is no good giving the name Avis at whatever airport you have arrived at, saying you were driving to another state overnight. That will cost the airline [pounds sterling]1,900 and they will have to find you (and one suspects all your party) a seat on the return flight. Holiday makers flying in expecting to take a leisurely cruise back to Southampton the same day on Queen Mary 2 might take note that its address is Pier 92, Hudson River, NY 10014. But they are not night-stopping, the ship gets away that evening. In any event it is very unlikely that the authorities will actually get around to checking every person's overnight accommodation address but some (probably newspaper) crank will no doubt put down The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500 and get away with it. Sep 26, 2005

TSA flies in more screeners into Houston ahead of storm. Houston's two airports on Thursday overflowed with people hoping to leave the city ahead of Hurricane Rita. Officials said many Transportation Security Administration screeners did not report to work, which slowed the security screening process. The TSA flew in additional screeners from other Texas cities Thursday. Sep 23, 2005

Design changes at airports called for to handle storms, disasters. Hurricane Katrina has forced airport directors to rethink the role their facilities play when disasters strike, The Wall Street Journal's Scott McCartney writes. After the storm hit New Orleans, its airport was used as a shelter and a hospital. New Orleans Airport...

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