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Visa threat to Britons as America and Europe row over security

Jason Lewis
UK Daily Mail [1]
Sunday, Sept 28, 2008

Bargain hunters hoping to fly to America for the January sales could be forced to apply for visas unless European leaders abandon their objections to strict US security controls.

American anti-terror chiefs are threatening to withdraw the Visa Waiver Scheme for British and European tourists unless the EU signs an agreement on the new measures before Christmas.

Under the US Homeland Security scheme, all travellers – including children – without a visa must fill out a detailed online questionnaire about their health and criminal history at least three days before departure.

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Travellers are currently required to answer similar questions by filling in forms on board transatlantic flights, which are handed to immigration officials when they land.

But from January 12 next year, the Department of Homeland Security wants this information in advance to check its blacklists for terrorists or anyone considered ‘undesirable’.

The measures have caused concern among European leaders and data protection authorities, with the EU demanding assurances about how the information will be used, who will have access to it and how long it will be kept.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

But Michael Chertoff, director of the Department of Homeland Security, has called a halt to negotiations and is warning the European Commission that it must agree to the measures before the end of the year.

Full article here [1]