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Iím sorry, this is a democracy

by afew Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 08:38:32 AM EST

Sophie in 't Veld is a Dutch MEP and is Rapporteur to the European Parliament for the Passenger Name Records (PNR) issue. She gave what, in diplomatic language, is called a "frank" interview on the subject to Euractiv.com: We Can't Trust Americans Blindfolded.

<...>

The Americans will continue to have direct access to the reservation system, however they have promised to switch to a system whereby the airlines Ďforwardí the data. I have to say that the Americans promised this back in 2003 as well; it is technically possible, so there is no reason why they havenít implemented it so far. So, thatís unfortunate.

<...>

no agreement would have plunged us into chaos and would have left citizens completely unprotected. However, itís obvious that this deal is even weaker than the previous one, and the European Parliament was never happy with that one from the start, so, happy is not the word. I hope that the Americans will actually respect the agreement, because so far they have a fairly patchy record in implementing their so-called undertakings or promises.

<...>

Like the previous agreement, the Passenger Name Records will be accessible to the Americans, but from the start the European Parliament said that there was no adequate protection of EU citizensí rights. The trouble has been all along that in cases of abuse, or mistakes, thereís hardly any means of legal redress for EU citizens, because US data-protection laws do not cover them.

<...>

Some people pretend that the European Parliament is opposed to the principle of data-sharing; that is simply not true, we are as concerned about the security of our citizens as anybody else, and weíve had to remind the Americans several times that there have actually been more attacks on European soil than in America. So itís not that we donít care, but there have to be proper safeguards. You canít just say ĎWe want to know everything about our citizens but we are not bound by any rules, thereís no data-protection and there are no safeguards for citizensí.

(emphasis mine)

More beneath the fold.


Iím sorry, this is a democracy, this is the 21st century, and we all know that the public authorities mean well, but people arenít safe, people should have proper means of redress. Thatís really elementary. Secondly, US authorities have really given us very little reason to trust them blindfolded.

<...>

The Americans have not lived up to their promises, thatís very obvious; for example, there was the issue of Ďpurpose limitationí. The agreementís undertakings state that passenger data can only be used for the fight against terrorism and related crime. However, in reality it turns out that it is being used for other purposes.

Thereís also the case of SWIFT [bank-transfer data]. Why do we have to find out five years into the war against terror that our bank accounts are being monitored, why didnít anybody tell us about this?

Is this the way that allies behave? Spying on each other in secret? The CIA flights, the rendition flights, secret detention camps, these donít really inspire much confidence, either. Iím sorry, but it creates an image of American authorities who feel that they are above the law. And this is not anti-Americanism, because, letís face it, opposition is growing within the US as well.

<...> The US is squandering the goodwill that they had. I am very sorry about that, because I passionately believe that we should be allies and we should be sharing the same values, but it is increasingly difficult.

This is a very undesirable situation, and itís not just about PNR. We do not speak with one voice, but national governments are selling their electorate the illusion of national sovereignty. Give me a break! Terrorism is a worldwide phenomenon, but we see today that policies are not made in national capitals, nor are they made in Brussels, they are made in Washington. <...>

Read the whole thing. Particularly what she has to say about European governments selling us short.

Display:
Excellent article

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 09:13:52 AM EST
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/10/9/122717/219

Sorry this is a bit of a quickie, today has been a bit frantic.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 12:32:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sorry, this is a democracy, this is the 21st century, and we all know that the public authorities mean well, but people aren't safe, people should have proper means of redress. That's really elementary. Secondly, US authorities have really given us very little reason to trust them blindfolded.

With our server being located in the U.S., could this impact us in any way?

(Not a snark.  I dunno what info our machines send and what info might be stored for what reason.)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 09:16:03 AM EST
Er... Perhaps the EP will get taken out first... ;)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 10:18:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't know their servers were in the U.S.

:o)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 11:05:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey! Did you just hit me with a pig's bladder?

 - +
  o
  ^

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 04:57:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Marry, 'nuncle, 'tis ... no, can't do it convincingly.

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sapere aude
by Number 6 on Thu Oct 12th, 2006 at 11:10:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmmm.... Thinking about writing to her about withdrawing from the Visa Waiver Program...

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 09:22:34 AM EST
I think this idea of yours is useful as a threat, but would not be terribly practical in reality.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 09:27:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The issue is the US refuses to extend the visa waiver program to all the EU member states, so the EU 15 should simply pull out in solidarity, and the point here would become moot. The US could get their information directly from the passenger at the US consulate.

The fact that Visa Waiver visitors have not gone through any prior screening is one of the justifications for the US' demands.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 09:29:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I understand your argument, and I agree that there's a nice rhetorical ring to it.  But it's not going to happen.  It would make things very inconvenient for too many people who have too much influence over the decision, or over the people who make the decision.

In the eyes of many people, as well, the idea is just crazy.  Sorry, but as someone who's been living in the so-called "developing world" for years, and who's been listening to my friends complain more each year about how much harder it's gotten for them to get into either the EU or (especially) the US, I find it a little mind-boggling that you would really want to make it harder for yourself to travel from place to place, wherever that place might be.  Because that's only an argument that someone who has the luxury of easy entry to just about every country on Earth would generally even contemplate.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 09:49:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU10 should have vetoed the agreement.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 09:58:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
tsp, sure, but at the same time, if we advocate that the principle of the EU (and EU citizens are all equal) then sometimes you have to take a stand, even if it's painful.

Of course, as a negotiating tactic I much prefer to threaten removal of the visa waiver for US citizens from the 10 poorest states travelling to Europe. But as you say, that won't happen.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 10:04:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is of course the argument that anyone flying to the US is likely to come under massive surveillance by the NSA etc. anyway, so in reality the data protection issue is rather moot...
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 10:20:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"...massive surveillance."  Give me a break!

Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make paranoid - -?

I didn't see anything in the list of information gathered by US authorities that causes me much of a problem (well-maybe frequent flyer miles).  Perhaps I'm just used to the intrusion. However,..

The EU should really stick to its demands for equal protection for the data (in line with that given to US citizens or residents), avenues of redress for improper actions taken based on the data, and  agreement that use will be restricted to the agreed upon purposes for which it was collected.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 12:14:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll admit I meant to type "liable" rather than "likely" to come under massive surveillance.

But I'll concede your point about paranoia when you explain to me how having every letter that is sent to you from abroad opened by the authorities before it gets to you is not a reasonable sign of "massive surveillance" of your goings on.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 12:32:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow! Tell me about this letter opening. Do you mean to say that someone is opening all of your personal first class mail, including simple letter mail, from the US?  I can tell you that it is against US law for a US Government official to open mail in US custody without a court ordered search warrant based on probable cause.  I believe US Customs can open mail that it believes contains uncustomed goods, for the purpose of inspection, but not for other reasons. The Postal Service can probably also open mail or obtain a warrant to do so if it has reason to believe it contains dangerous substances (I need to check on exact USPS circumstances), but I don't believe that the wholesale opening of mail is permitted. If that is going on, I owe you an apology for sure. At this point though, I just don't believe it.

As far as massive surveillance of all foreign visitors, I don't believe that either.  Very specific visitors, yes, as with almost any government, but even then not by the NSA. You saw the kind of hullabaloo raised when the NSA was given authority to intercept some telephone calls coming into or from the US. Can you imagine the issues that would be raised with domestic to domestic communications?  This is not a police state quite yet. There are still powerful safeguard laws on the books and no one is immune to their enforcement.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 06:55:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Routine, mass opening of mail seems to fail the "manpower" requirement. Seems unlikely.


-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Thu Oct 12th, 2006 at 11:11:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, and with regard to your comments below about not wanting to visit the US unless pressured.  The US is home to many many "brown skinned" persons, including quite a few in my own family. You should not fear to visit because of the color of your skin or national origin. Illegal immigration has created a backlash of sorts, but I've not seen anything like we witnessed in Germany, where brown or black visitors/immigrants were intimidated while riding the trains by street thugs. I'm not saying something like that doesn't happen sometimes, but it would not be tolerated by most people here and is certainly not representative of US society.  Occasionally, people can be rude, but that can be expected most anywhere.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 07:07:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Once inside the country I'm sure most people would be fine. Howver, I'm not going anywhere I will be routinely fingerprinted on entry. End of story.


-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Thu Oct 12th, 2006 at 11:13:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(Also, I'm not going anywhere my spelling will be checked ...)

-----
sapere aude
by Number 6 on Thu Oct 12th, 2006 at 11:19:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, except that residents from the poorest 10 US states are probably least likely to travel to Europe, so nobody would give a damn.  You'd get more rhetorical oomph from requiring visas from residents New York and California.

One problem here is that we have other aspects of US immigration policy (which is deeply flawed on its own) mixed up with "anti-terra" policy (which is even more flawed).

Anyway, I still find pulling out of the VWP to be a relatively impractical and ultimately ineffective idea.  Most Americans, sadly, don't give a damn whether they have to apply for visas to visit Europe.  This is a bargaining chip that might pursuade someone at the State Department, but isn't going to get much traction elsewhere, and State is largely irrelevant here.  This isn't their policy.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 10:21:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems to me that you're arguing from a dual standpoint:

Most Americans, sadly, don't give a damn whether they have to apply for visas to visit Europe.

but at the same time that most Europeans allegedly give a damn.

I'd say by this rationale most Europeans don't give a damn either, beyond the principle, so it's a good and painless place to make a point of principle.

Do I expect it to change US policy? No.

Could it be one tiny step to showing a bit of backbone in dealing with the US? Yes.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 10:30:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The ones who care, on both sides, are the business elite. For the rest of us, tourists or employees, there is always ample time in our travel plans to apply for a visa. The only thing that would be impeded is an "emergency" (say, a family emergency).

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 10:36:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I haven't really forumlated a multi-point platform and PowerPoint presentation, but whatever.  I'm afraid you're misunderstanding me.

I honestly have no idea whether most Europeans give a damn, and that's beside the point.  We're talking about action the EU would be taking.  Under Migeru's plan, the EU countries, not the US, would threaten to withdraw from the VWP.  One party threatens to take a certain action if one expects that threat to have an effect on the other party.  In this case, it would be unlikely to have the desired effect.  That was one point.

A different point was this:  whether it is likely that whoever makes these decisions on behalf of the EU would actually make such a decision, given that the people (European or otherwise) who do care about the convenience factor (never mind the idea of being turned down) will exert their influence on the people who make the decision.  It was a rather cynical point that had nothing to do with whether most Europeans would give a damn or not, but more to do with the process of political decisionmaking anywhere.

Sure, we could expect some of those people (the subset of people who do care about convenience) to overlap with the subset of people who care about principles, but probably not by much.  So anyway, my point was just a practical one, which is that I think withdrawing from the VWP is unlikely to happen.

(And maybe it's a dumb question, but is this an EU-level decision anyway?  Or was the VWP negotiated with individual countries?)

At any rate, isn't this a distraction from the real issue, which is whether it's OK for the US gov't to expect this information on European travelers?  And what happens to that data?  And whether EU citizens have recourse to US data-protection laws, or whether those laws are strong enough?

Becuase if you're giving them the same info through the consulates that you're now objecting to giving them through the airlines, it still doesn't address the larger privacy matters, does it?  The US gov't still ends up with information that you don't want them to have.  I think the better solution is to focus on the data-protection laws matter than to try to score rhetorical points over a side issue that will not address the core problem.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 10:59:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(And maybe it's a dumb question, but is this an EU-level decision anyway?  Or was the VWP negotiated with individual countries?)

I believe the VWP is a framework for bilateral agreements. This becomes an EU decision because the conditions imposed by the US violate the EU's data protection laws [there was a European Court of Justice decision on this].

The EU has also been trying to get the US to extend the visa waiver program to the whole EU25, to no avail.

The VWP is constantly being brought up as a security vulnerability by the US senate and the US government, and the US keeps imposing conditions on it. It's a moving target and at some point you have to wonder whether the convenience is worth it. It's cost us a lot of money to change our passports, for instance. I still have an old-format passport so if I wanted to go to the US I'd need a visa or I'd need to get a replacement passport anyway. Where's the convenience in that?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 11:10:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From the BBC article tsp directs us to in another comment either up or down thread, it says:

Now that the talks with the EU have run into difficulty, the US has the option of doing bilateral deals with each of the EU's 25 member states, but it is likely to regard this as a last resort.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 11:53:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Becuase if you're giving them the same info through the consulates that you're now objecting to giving them through the airlines, it still doesn't address the larger privacy matters, does it?  The US gov't still ends up with information that you don't want them to have.  I think the better solution is to focus on the data-protection laws matter than to try to score rhetorical points over a side issue that will not address the core problem.

It's ironic really because I class this as impractical. We (the EU) can't expect to change what information the US collects from people who enter the US. It's not an argument the US is going to listen to.

Likewise, we, the EU can't really persuade a US administration dedicated to spying on its own citizens to behave better about data protection.

All that can be done is to:

a) Prevent EU companies transferring data to people who don't have proper data protection principles in place.

b) Make the collection of data by the US transparent to  the people it is being collected on.

The only mechanism in place at the moment for this is to move back from a visa waiver to a visa program. The US doesn't want to do the work of collecting the information itself, but would rather the companies do the dirty work.

You could set up all sorts of alternative visa waiver programs, where the passenger gives out their information themselves with proper consent, which I have no problem with. For example, if you do it through Shannon Airport and Aer Lingus where the visa waiver is examined at the Irish end you know where you are, straight away. They could ask you all the questions they want before you fly.

This could be extended. The US could arrange separate information gathering and the airlines could co-operate in this, providing staff, etc. But I don't see giving the US untrammeled access to the airline database and hoping to get concessions on data protection as a good start for negotiation.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 11:19:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The US could have a consular officer present at check-in at the airport.

I distinctly remember having to go through a verbal interview with an airline employee when flying to the US many years ago. I also remember a black African woman in front of me on the line got a serious grilling for no apparent reason other than her nationality, while I went through relatively easily. That made me furious.

This must have happened in 1991, before Spain joined the VWP.

BTW, the VWP countries check out pretty well against a list of countries sorted by GDP per capita. It's a joke, and it's all done for the convenience of business travellers.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 11:24:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a joke, and it's all done for the convenience of business travellers.

Yep.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 11:38:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The US does have some pre-screening officials at airports in several European countries. As I recall, most are customs, but there may be some immigration folks as well.  However, it would take more than a single consular official to handle the traffic at most European gateways.  Basically, you would need an entire consular section, even if their only job was to collect information vs. making decisions on visa issuance.

I believe that the best option is not to link the VWP to data collection issues, but to stick to the specific issues that you have with the program.  Decide what is really offensive about data collection and go after solutions through negotiations.  EU air traffic to the US is of equal importance to both governments. Europe doesn't really need anymore leverage, it just needs to be persistent.  Eurotrib. should definitely lobby for additional safeguards/disclosure if that's what you want.  I think there may be a number of things on the negotiating table that have not been revealed. Unfortunately, it becomes very difficult for citizens to become involved effectively under such circumstances, but it never hurts to push for your rights, regardless.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Tue Oct 10th, 2006 at 10:54:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The US does have some pre-screening officials at airports in several European countries. As I recall, most are customs, but there may be some immigration folks as well.  However, it would take more than a single consular official to handle the traffic at most European gateways.  Basically, you would need an entire consular section, even if their only job was to collect information vs. making decisions on visa issuance.
Giving up the visa waiver would solve this problem: people would have to go through the existing consular sections. What? Processing all these people would cost the US government money? I suppsoe it's better to get the private airlines to do it for free, then. Right?
I believe that the best option is not to link the VWP to data collection issues, but to stick to the specific issues that you have with the program.
I'm not the one linking the data collection to the VWP, it's the friggin' US Senate:
Senate Judiciary Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., sent Chertoff a letter asking him to strengthen the visa waiver program by implementing recommendations from a Government Accountability Office report earlier this month.

...

Kyl said the government needs more information faster on travelers boarding planes so border officials can make informed decisions on whether they should be cleared. "Congress may need to alter the requirements of the program to ensure that visa waiver countries are giving DHS the data it needs to make those decisions," he said.

GAO found several weaknesses with the program. The department has not established adequate operating procedures for countries to report stolen or lost travel documents to the program and the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol); and has not given U.S. border inspectors automatic access to Interpol's databases at primary inspection points, GAO said.

Give up the visa waiver program, and it all goes away.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 10th, 2006 at 11:03:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fair enough.  It was not my intention to reassign blame for the US congress having linked data for security to the VWP, but rather to identify the easiest way to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution during negotiations on the current data collection effort being conducted by airlines. The more complicated negotiations become, the longer they are likely to last with a greater chance for unhappiness for one side or the other. Obviously, the simplest solution would be to abandon the VWP altogether, and I assume the EU could do that unilaterally. However, I don't believe either side wants to do that.  It also makes no sense to position an entire consular section at various airports around Europe, and I don't expect that to happen regardless.  The likely result of a "visa war" between the US and Europe would be a costly increase in consular resources for both sides.  The best methodology is to address the specific issues.  That is what the EU side has done, but apparently not entirely to its satisfaction, and obviously not to the satisfaction of present company.  So, the EU has to decide what, if anything, to do next. My recomendation would be to keep going after the things they want to get out of the relationship rather than abandoning existing progressive agreements.  I'm just trying to be helpful.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Tue Oct 10th, 2006 at 02:17:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, I should address the "developing world" issue directly. My Dad's side of the family are in India largely, although one brother is in the US long-term, just as my Dad is in the UK long-term. As a result I'm reasonably familiar with the absurd contortions of getting people visas to visit both the UK, EU and US when they originate in the "developing world."

However, the fact of the matter is that "reciprocal access" is based on two calculations which I don't expect to change quickly:

  1. Assessed likelihood of the visa being abused, leading to illegal immigration.

  2. Relative negotiating power and determination of the states involved in the reciprocal agreement.

What we have here is an ongoing testing by the US of EU resolve, with the aim of instituting unbalanced agreements. The logical outcome of these agreements is that every time the EU backs down, the US will try to institute some more unbalanced clauses in the process. As a brown skinned citizen with a funny foreign name I don't intend to visit the US if I don't have important pressure to, but still I'd like my government not to get on a slippery slope to surrendering all my rights if I have to travel.

You don't have to agree with my views on fingerprinting and RFID in passports and racial and other profiling. But if Mig holds similar views to mine, surely, it's only right  for us to try and lobby our European representatives to actually stand up for us?

Likewise, a tax on Florida oranges and products from close Senate seats would be much more effective, but the principle of international negotiation is that sanctions should be relevant to the issue at hand.

Hence the visa waiver, although it might make life more difficult.

Yes, it is a position of privilege that my cousins don't have to say "let's give up the visa waiver" but the purpose is to protect the overall freedom of travel.

And as I've already said, I don't expect it to work in the short term, but you have to start somewhere.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 10:47:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As a brown skinned citizen with a funny foreign name I don't intend to visit the US if I don't have important pressure to, but still I'd like my government not to get on a slippery slope to surrendering all my rights if I have to travel.

That is why the "convenience" argument for the visa waiver is moot. It provides a measure of security to the traveller if they have actually gone through screening at the consulate and obtained a visa. If you go to the US without a visa you always have to wonder whether they'll turn you back [it's happened to all kinds of people, including academics and artists with invitations to events: they would have been better off taking their invitation to the consulate and obtaining a visa].

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 10:56:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I acknowledge that I've used "convenience" as a catchall term that would include the "convenience" of visiting at all.  Because where I live, most people who apply for US visas (and, increasingly, for visas to EU countries as well) are turned down.

Also, just for the record, having a valid visa is no guarantee that they'll let you in on arrival.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 11:19:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure what you think I'm arguing for.

You don't have to agree with my views on fingerprinting and RFID in passports and racial and other profiling. But if Mig holds similar views to mine, surely, it's only right  for us to try and lobby our European representatives to actually stand up for us?

I would never in a million years argue that you should not lobby your European representatives to stand up for your views.  And I suspect that my views are not terribly different than yours on this matter.  (I'm not sure where you got the idea that they are different, given that I have never commented on this subject before.)

What I am trying to say is that I do not believe that campaigning to withdraw from the VWP, or actually withdrawing from it, would go any distance toward achieving your goals.  I don't think it's particularly productive to focus on how they get the information, instead of on what information they have a right to, or what they do with it when they get it.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 11:13:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My first issue here is transparency. Forcing the traveller to acknowledge and approve of all the data that is given to the US government.

That's why another possibility would be to have people check on a list that they agree to give away each of the 24 items of information that the US requires.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 11:19:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My first issue here is transparency.

Well, transparency is something we can all get behind.  But I find it sort of depressing that this entire argument now seems to be about whether people know what they're doing, instead of whether they're doing it.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 11:41:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Absolutely agree.

But as a foreigner I don't really have any rights in the US anyway, so it feels unlikely that we'll win that argument, at least now whilst they are waving the "terra" card.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 11:47:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(Arguably I've already internalised the depression and given up hope on the big issue!)
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 11:48:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For a second there I thought you said "transparency is something we can all leave behind". And it all made sense.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 11:48:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Oh, pffft, individual rights are so 1990s."

<sigh>

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 11:56:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Er, not for the regulation inflight bag containing no liquids, Mig. You make that transparent or they can your ass.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 12:05:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the EU just has to keep hammering away in order to improve their side of an agreement. We are still in the very preliminary stages of working out an arrangement that could take years to complete to everyone's satisfaction.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 12:25:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I had really hoped Europe would finally take a hard line on an issue with the US, and this one seemed like a good candidate - it's not defense related, but it's not trivial either. Some brinksmanship could have been useful.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 12:54:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A spine is a prerequisite for brinksmanship.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 04:56:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The price we pay for this "convenience" is
  • we lose data protection
  • we are forced to change our passports every time the US senate says so in order to preserve the visa waiver
  • we allow the US to treat the citizens of the EU10 as "second class citizens" [well, the EU already does that, but let's leave that aside for a minute]
  • we still have to go through US immigration on arrival and have to waive our right to contest their decision to deny us entry


Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 10:09:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To be fair:

we still have to go through US immigration on arrival and have to waive our right to contest their decision to deny us entry

is a defect in most visa waiver schemes across the world, as Drew found out recently...

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 10:12:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ot, Mig, did you see my reply in the Pulsar thread?
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 10:14:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yup. I've been meaning to reply.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 10:15:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
America is not a 'convenience' that I need to visit in the foreseeable future.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 05:20:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Very good interview, thanks for sharing it with us.

we've had to remind the Americans several times that there have actually been more attacks on European soil than in America.

Not sure I'd take that approach to the conversation... I suspect the US administration might argue that that's one reason why they want the data....

And this...

Is this the way that allies behave? Spying on each other in secret?

... seems like a relatively naive question.  Of course they do.  They just don't admit it.

More to the point, though... Regarding the US data-protection laws, she also says:

Whereas, for example, we had a similar agreement with Canada, which has simply extended the data-protection laws that apply to their citizens to EU citizens entering Canada.

Would that be an acceptable solution to ET-ers?  Or do we have a problem with "the principle of data-sharing"?  Which of these items is most troubling?

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 09:23:54 AM EST
Isn't part of the problem that EU data protection laws are stronger than US ones?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 09:37:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I dunno.  I was just quoting from the interview, a segment that Afew kindly bolded for us:

in cases of abuse, or mistakes, there's hardly any means of legal redress for EU citizens, because US data-protection laws do not cover them.

It would seem that EU citizens not being covered under US data-protection laws is a different issue entirely from whether US data-protection laws are strong enough for the EU.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 09:54:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What bothers me is more the beginning of that phrase. In case of abuse, or mistakes, there is hardly any redress.

And this at a time when it is clear the US:

  1. has "pull" rights on airline databases;
  2. wants to pull an increasing number of items;
  3. wants to spread the data over more government agencies;

thus, it seems to me, increasing the already considerable risk of "abuses, or mistakes".

What we can do about it is something else again. You're probably right, not much. I appreciate Sophie in 't Veld's frankness, all the same, when our governments are keeping their heads well down.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 11:45:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The US is squandering the goodwill that they had. I am very sorry about that, because I passionately believe that we should be allies and we should be sharing the same values, but it is increasingly difficult.

This is a very undesirable situation, and it's not just about PNR. We do not speak with one voice, but national governments are selling their electorate the illusion of national sovereignty. Give me a break! Terrorism is a worldwide phenomenon, but we see today that policies are not made in national capitals, nor are they made in Brussels, they are made in Washington.

Sadly, Marek has said he's given up on writing a diary on the benefits of Atlanticism.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 09:25:03 AM EST
Off topic, is this woman's name really "Sophie in 't Veld"?  That sounds like a folk song.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 09:30:05 AM EST
Her EP page.

Her name is pronounced "in het felt" and means in the field, if I am not mistaken.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 09:36:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, it would mean the same thing in Afrikaans, which is why I asked.  I find it a curious name.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 09:50:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm, Nomad may not find the humour in this, but there is a whole raft of Dutch names that are rather redolent of pastoral times when the world was just different.

I was reminded of this by recent import to Celtic football club who is named Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 10:06:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There also are a number of Dutch names with no real genealogy, ie. names that were intentionally chosen to be funny, nasty etc, both to mock Napoleon's decree to nominalize the Netherlands (his 1811 census -for taxation- required family names for everyone), and because they believed that decree would be temporary.

"Ziegenhart" (pig heart), or "Zondervan" (without a surname) are good examples of such names. "In het veld" could easily be another one.

Wikipedia says something about this.

by Alex in Toulouse on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 11:09:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Napoleon ran a poor PR program which probably wouldn't have been taken serious by the recalcitrant Dutch when they were demanded to register a surname.
by Nomad on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 11:10:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it's a great name. Probably means no more than "Field" or "Duchamp", but it's got more of a ring to it.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 11:02:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe we could have one of those also, send us some observers and see if we have a real election or another fiasco.  Fiasco, funny how much you hear that word.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 01:23:37 PM EST
I'm having some trouble with the framing of this discussion. It's not really a matter of the U.S. versus Europe, it's a matter of privacy advocates versus "security" advocates--on both sides of the ocean.

Ironically, in the U.S. it's generally Republicans who are privacy advocates, because that is more closely aligned with the Libertarian view that forms one strand of Republicanism. I'm not sure which party is the "put a TV camera on every British power pole," but that concept would not be supported by most Americans. Furthermore, several European nations have ID cards that must be produced on demand, while the U.S. doesn't. And I would argue that the claim that the "secret" jails, extraordinary renditions, CIA kidnappings, etc., didn't happen in Europe without the awareness of the local governments.

The discussion should be pointed at those powers in ALL governments that take unacceptable actions, and there are plenty of them in every country.

by asdf on Mon Oct 9th, 2006 at 07:32:03 PM EST


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