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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Privacy concerns regarding information sharing with US

Summer blog

I notice that The Australian has reported that Qantas routinely passes passenger information to the US authorities for those traveling from Australia to the US. This won't surprise anyone who has read the fine print on their e-ticket, although its news that, according to The Australian the shared information includes meal preference - you need to keep a watch out for those vegetarians and vegans!

There has been quite a fuss in the UK however, as reports indicate that information provided about passengers arriving in the US from there includes not just names but credit card and other details including email addresses. This report suggests that the US may be in a position to examine the history of credit card purchases. I don't imagine this, if true, is a unique requirement for the UK.

No one has clarified to date what happens with all this information, including what US agencies have access, and what security safeguards apply. There is certainly no evident privacy notice or pamphlet when you line up for the customs service on arrival at a US airport.

A new issue has arisen this week in the light of US plans to require 10 finger prints for arriving passengers, so that data can be matched against an FBI data base. At present arriving passengers in the US provide a one finger print and a retina scan.

This UK report says that the new requirements will apply also to passengers arriving from Australia.

One thing that isn't clear from what I have seen is what information Australian authorities share with the US - for example does the FBI already hold the complete database of finger prints now consolidated in Australia in the Federal Government's Crimtrack system?

Are our privacy regulators keeping an eye on all this?

Thanks to PogoWasRight for some links.

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