E.g., 04/19/2014
E.g., 04/19/2014

Transatlantic Information Sharing: At a Crossroads

Reports
January 2010

Transatlantic Information Sharing: At a Crossroads

Information-sharing programs are widely considered critical intelligence, law enforcement, and mobility-risk management tools that help governments combat terrorism and transnational crime. Despite benefits of sharing commercial, government, or personal information for law enforcement and intelligence purposes, U.S. and EU officials have toiled to find a satisfactory legal framework to do so. As this report explores, negotiations on a binding U.S.-EU agreement governing information sharing for law enforcement purposes—while an important transatlantic policy agenda—face significant challenges. This report describes and analyzes possible legal, privacy, and data-protection frameworks for information-sharing agreements relating to human mobility.

Part of the struggle to create a mutually suitable legal framework stems from the difference between the definitions of "law enforcement purposes" adopted by the United States and the European Union. Other contentious issues include access to administrative and judicial redress procedures, private companies’ obligations to share information with governments, the impact of information-sharing agreements on relations with other countries, and the divergent institutional setups of U.S. and EU privacy agencies. As a result, the United States and the European Union have yet to negotiate, draft, and sign a binding international agreement that will govern the sharing of personal information for law enforcement purposes. This report examines the challenges to integrate the best level of privacy and data protection into new practices.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. Political and Legal Context for Transatlantic Data Sharing and Processing       

A. Why Governments Want to Share Information on Travelers

B. Purposes of Information Sharing and Processing

C. Legal Frameworks that Allow Governments to Collect and Share Information

III. Major Concerns about Transatlantic Information Sharing

A. Exchange and Processing of Personal Data by Governments: the Case of the EU-U.S. PNR Agreement

B. Legal Framework Differences between the European Union and the United States

C. Transatlantic Decision-Making Forums

IV. Negotiating a Binding Legal Framework

V. Moving Forward