U.S. seeks improvements to sharing of security info

Since attacks in the United States five years ago Monday focused world attention on terrorism, the European Union has taken strides to help fight terrorism. However, the United States is currently in discussions with Europe on two information-sharing agreements.

According to Jarrod Agen, a spokesman from the U.S. Homeland Security Department, the United States currently is given passenger data of those traveling from the European Union 15 minutes after airplanes depart. The information includes basic information such as names and birthdates. The United States wants to get that information before take-off, he said.

Secondly, the United States is negotiating for improvements in the information the United States receives about the booking of tickets, as well as itinerary details. Currently, the U.S. is restricted on how much it can share the information and for how long it can be retained, Agen said.

The European Union has probably been the most productive in the field of biometrics, according to James Carafano, a Heritage Foundation homeland security scholar. The European Commission recently said that by June 2009, two fingerprints will be added to the microchips in biometrics-based passports.

Jonah Czerwinski, a homeland security director for the Center for the Study of the Presidency, said the "EU is moving farther than anyone else in developing passports with biometrics."

Biometrics in passports could help alleviate some concern related to an agreement on travel within the European Union and a U.S. program that waives the need for visas from people in friendly countries. Under EU rules, citizens in participating countries can move freely without being subject to internal border controls.

According to Czerwinski, more countries are moving to join the agreement, which he said has a "border security cost" but an "economic payoff."

The European Union has databases with people's security information, according to Telmo Baltazar, the EU counselor for justice and home affairs. "We can only afford to create this possibility by putting in place adequate security measures," Baltazar said. The union also is considering a full biometric-based entry-exist system similar to the US-VISIT program for tracking visitors.

Czerwinski said Europe must find a way that addresses a cultural issue that dates to World War II: people not wanting to show identification papers.

Visa reciprocity between the United States and Europe remains an issue. Americans traveling to all EU nations do not require visas, but citizens from 10 of the 25 EU nations must have visas for U.S. travel. "This creates a serious issue of a lack of full reciprocity," Baltazar said.

Biometrics could provide more faith in passports and result in the visa program becoming less of an issue, Czerwinski said.

The European Commission on Monday released a list of initiatives it has taken in the fight against terrorism, including a pending decision on electronic customs and a framework on security and safeguarding liberties.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.