The European Parliament (EP) has approved controversial air passenger data sharing plans that will allow the US authorities to keep personal data on European citizens for up to 10 years.
The deal is due to be signed off by member states' justice and home affairs ministers on 26 April, marking the end of the hotly disputed issue.
The US had pressed for access to all information about passengers entering the country from Europe amid heighten security concerns following the September 2001 terrorist attacks.
The deal will see information such as passengers' names, addresses, telephone numbers and even credit card details being handed over the US authorities.
It covers passengers flying to the US on European airlines and more controversially those carriers that store data in the EU and operate flights to and from the US.
Under the new agreement, the US authorities will be able to keep the data for up to 10 years, although after the first six months, all information which could be used to identify a passenger will be “depersonalised”.
According to European officials, that means passengers' names will be scrambled to avoid identification.
That codified data will be kept in an active database for up to five years before being transferred to a “dormant” database for a further five years.
The vote on the proposals was passed by 409 votes to 226, with some significant objections over concerns that the agreement was not in keeping with European laws on data protection.
One of the senior officials involved in drawing up the proposals, Sophie in'T Veld, withdrew her name from the report in protest at its contents.
Earlier this year, the EU data protection supervisor slammed the proposed agreement for failing to adhere to Europe's data laws.
The new deal will replace existing data sharing agreements with the US and will last for seven years.
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