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Explore profiling: EU

The counter-terrorism plan unveiled last week by interior ministers from the European Union indicates that, since the London bombings of July 2005, Europe has focused on developing an intelligence-led response to airborne terrorism.

European civil liberties activists remain wary, however, about the infringement of personal privacy through the exchange and analysis of passenger name records.

"Europe should explore positive profiling of passengers to make border controls more efficient for frequent travellers," said European Union justice commissioner Franco Frattini following the ministers' meeting.

Meanwhile, the decision in May by the European Court of Justice to outlaw the transfer of air passengers' personal data to the USA from October has prepared the way for development of a European directive on the exchange and analysis of passenger details. Dutch Liberal MEP Sophie in't Veld, whose draft report was adopted by the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee on 13 July and will go to a full vote in the Parliament plenary session in September, wants MEPs to be at the negotiating table as observers when the EC meets US counterparts to hammer out a stop-gap agreement.

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