Homeland Security, Information Policy, and the Transatlantic Alliance

19 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2009

Date Written: March 17, 2009


This short essay uses a recent case study - the controversy surrounding the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's access to European airline reservation data - as a vehicle for exploring the European Union's new enthusiasm for projecting its data-privacy values globally. We begin by discussing how DHS uses passenger name records, or "PNR," to detect potential terrorist operatives. We then examine the legal authorities under which passenger data is collected and used, including domestic constitutional and statutory norms as well as principles of international law. Next, the essay discusses the hostile response of some EU policymakers to DHS's use of reservation data, and offers possible explanations for their efforts to apply European data-privacy principles to American national-security initiatives. Finally, we propose solutions to transatlantic conflicts that will help preserve both individual privacy and national autonomy.

Keywords: ATS, al Qaeda, Automated Targeting System, counterterrorism, Fourth Amendment, frequent flyer number, Iraq, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Markle Foundation report, no fly list, passport, scrutiny, search and seizure, U.S. Customs and Border Protection

JEL Classification: F50, F51, F52, F53, H50, H56, K33, K42, O33, O38, P13, R40

Suggested Citation

Baker, Stewart A. and Sales, Ambassador Nathan A., Homeland Security, Information Policy, and the Transatlantic Alliance (March 17, 2009). George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 09-20, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1361943 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1361943

Stewart A. Baker

Steptoe & Johnson PLLC ( email )

1330 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
United States
202-429-6402 (Phone)

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