It’s 1776 all over again, as former Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Stewart Baker quips. This time, however, we are not talking about unjust taxes or the right to a trial by jury, and no one is dumping tea into Boston Harbor.
Instead, the issue is U.S. ability to preserve its own security. Earlier this month, the European Parliament announced its plan to postpone a vote on sharing Passenger Name Records (PNR) with the United States. Essentially, the parliament is reneging on years of negotiations and a standing agreement to share information with the U.S.
Data-sharing agreements like the PNR are essential to helping the United States identify potential terrorists and stop them in their tracks. In fact, officials have said that the PNR aided in capturing the Times Square bomber, Faisal Shazad, and the Christmas Day bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmuttallab. Information sharing between the United States and Europe was also instrumental in thwarting the liquid explosives plot of 2006.
Apparently, the EU decided it wanted to add in more terms: American “use of PNR data for law enforcement and security purposes must be in line with European data protection standards, in particular regarding purpose limitation, proportionality, legal redress, limitation of the amount of data to be collected and of the length of storage periods.”
In response to this challenge to U.S.—and EU—security, ranking members in both the House and Senate Homeland Security committees filed resolutions urging the Department of Homeland Security to take a strong stance in negotiations with the European Union. It’s a good thing the resolution “urges the Department of Homeland Security not to enter into any agreement that would impose European oversight structures on the United States.”
That sounds awfully familiar. Does the EU really want to pick a fight after 10 years of cooperation? It’s time to work together.