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International Information Sharing: Advancing Security and Protecting Privacy

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One of the most important realities highlighted by the attempted Christmas Day terrorist attack is that in this day and age, aviation security is a responsibility shared among nations. The attempted terrorist had an itinerary that spanned three countries, and citizens of 17 countries were traveling on board that flight.

In light of this attack, we are working with our international partners to bolster global security measures and standards for aviation security. Part of this effort is sharing the kind of information needed to keep terrorists off airplanes. We have a good template for future information-sharing accords in the agreements we already have, which maintain high privacy standards while sharing important security information.

For example, DHS has an agreement with the European Union to allow air carriers to share Passenger Name Record (PNR) data with DHS so we can determine whether people traveling to and from the United States have ties to terrorism. This data protects not only U.S. citizens, but any person traveling to the United States –so the continued partnership of our European allies on this program is vital. Earlier this week, as part of a regular review process, expert representatives of the European Union conducted a review of the effectiveness and privacy protections of this agreement, and even saw the system in action at Dulles International Airport near Washington.

This kind of information sharing is critical to securing the international aviation system. Last month I went to Spain to meet with my European colleagues on how we can improve aviation security, and this week I’m traveling to Mexico to discuss how countries in this hemisphere can work collaboratively toward this goal.

Because the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does not conduct screening at foreign airports, I am committed to strengthening coordination with international partners to implement stronger and more effective measures to protect air travel while continuing to protect privacy.

Our efforts will follow the lead of our past actions to improve security, where we have created effective systems, set high standards, and met them.

Janet Napolitano
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
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