U.S. authorities justify the arrangement citing security reasons, given that a passenger could hijack a plane and change its route.
PL reported that since last March, the White House has unilaterally requested that before a plane takes off, all European airlines use its ‘Secure Overflight’ program and submit the name, date of birth and gender of each passenger on flights which may enter U.S. airspace.
Although a plane may not touch U.S. soil, the airlines are required to enter the data into the electronic system to record personal information about those traveling these routes.
There is no legal framework supporting such a practice, according to a Spanish Information Protection Agency official, who expressed his concern.
However, a European Commission (CE) spokesperson, Michele Cercone, told EFE that the issue is not within the CE’s authority since the U.S. does not have access to information about Spanish passengers or those of other nationalities who travel to third countries, as stipulated in an agreement between Brussels and Washington about passenger lists.
The agreement apparently did not apply to Colombian journalist Hernando Calvo Ospina, a Le Monde Diplomatique collaborator and 25-year resident of Paris, El País emphasized.
This past May 6, the journalist was left stranded at Barajas airport, because a functionary from the U.S. embassy in Madrid blocked his departure to a third country, in this case, Cuba, on a direct nonstop flight.