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The data, which includes passenger credit card numbers, phone numbers and meal preferences, would "only be used on a case-by-case agreement", the US official said.
According to the PNR agreement, the EU would collect and deliver 34 such pieces of information to US authorities seeking to identify potential terrorists. The commission said it only recently discovered that the data could go to third-party states.
European parliamentary deputies wanted the number of items be reduced to 19, with greater emphasis on information that might be appropriate to law enforcement agencies rather than a passenger's preference for meat or fish.
The “black box” will review the data and translate it into a combined passenger risk score. The score may be low, unknown, or high, better understood as green, yellow, or red. Green-coded passengers will be able to pass directly through the normal security procedures, while yellow-coded passengers will be given heightened screening, and red-coded passengers will be referred to law enforcement and counterterrorism authorities. Officials estimate that fewer than 100 cases would be referred to law enforcement authorities each year, while an estimated 8% of passengers will receive yellow ratings. With an average of 2.5 million people flying daily, approximately 73 million people will be yellow-coded each year.