US, EU agree on sharing air passenger data

The United States and the European Union signed an anti-terror agreement Thursday that reduces the amount of information provided US authorities about airline passengers in advance of their arrival from Europe. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff described the information-sharing pact as "an essential screening tool for detecting potentially dangerous trans-Atlantic travelers." It replaces an interim agreement that was to have expired next week. That pact gave the Americans access to 34 pieces of identifying information about arriving passengers; under the new agreement, the Americans get 19 pieces of data. The data include passenger names, addresses, seat numbers, credit card information, travel details and are to be provided within 15 minutes of a flight's departure for the United States.