For those of you that missed it earlier this week, take a minute to check out Secretary Chertoff’s op-ed in the Washington Post. He argues for more effective use of detailed airline passenger information (Passenger Name Record or PNR data) to identify high-risk passengers. Chertoff identifies problems arising from international restrictions on the use and sharing of this data:
The U.S. government has collected PNR data on travelers aboard international flights to the United States since the early 1990s. This information is of such value that after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Congress mandated its continued collection. But in the past few years European privacy concerns have limited the ability of counterterrorism officials to gain broad access to data of this sort.
For example, under an agreement with the European Union, U.S. Customs and Border Protection receives this information regularly, but it cannot routinely share it with investigators in another DHS component, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or with the FBI — never mind with our allies in London. This information might yet identify associates of those arrested in the plot in Britain, but the rules blind us in routinely searching for that connection.
Yet another reminder that homeland security is not just a domestic issue. Effective HLS policies require strong international relationships and better channels for sharing threat information.