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US wants to store air passenger details for 15 years

AIRLINE passengers going to the US face the prospect of having their personal data retained by American authorities for up to 15 years -- three times longer than they are held for now.

The Government has yet to decide whether to opt out of the new draft agreement between the EU and the US.

However, human rights groups have expressed concern at the development and called for the Government to spell out where it stands on the matter.

The Government would have to pass any proposed agreement through the Oireachtas.

Amnesty International has demanded that the Government clearly indicate its position on the US proposal.

Amnesty also urged caution so that any information that was collected was not "used inappropriately".

The draft agreement between the US and EU concerns the transfer of passenger name records (PNR) in order to prevent terrorist offences and other serious crimes.

PNR are files created by the airlines for each journey by any passenger and include data on travel dates, tickets, seating, phone numbers and home addresses, among other details.

The new proposed agreement, which will be examined by the EU states and the European Parliament, is set to replace an existing agreement from 2007.

Colm O'Gorman, the executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, said: "Our concern with the proposals as reported in the media is, how do we ensure that the data that is sent to the Department of Homeland Security is not used inappropriately?"

"What protections are in place and what practical powers of oversight will the EU have?

"An immense amount of personal data is to be handed over to the US authorities and maintained for 15 years, far in excess of the EU's own passenger name record system," he added.

"The Irish Government needs to explain its approach to these proposals and what it proposes to ensure the right to privacy of people living in Ireland is defended."

Irish Independent