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US and Germany to share data in terrorism fight

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US and Germany to share data in terrorism fight
Photo: dpa
13:38 CET+01:00
The United States and Germany are planning to increase cooperation in order to fight terrorism and crime. Officials from both countries met in Berlin on Tuesday to sign off on an official agreement to share data.

The deal will focus primarily on exchanging DNA and fingerprint information between Berlin and Washington.

US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and US Attorney General Michael Bernard Mukasey met with their German counterparts, Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries to work out details.

News service AFP reports that in joint statement, officials said data may now be sent "even without being requested, if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the suspects may commit terrorist acts or crimes or crimes related to terrorism, or that they have been engaged in training to carry out terrorist acts."

The agreement also creates a basis for the automated exchange of fingerprint and DNA data using a procedure modelled on the Prüm Treaty signed by several European Union states in 2005, they said.

The agreement comes six months after German authorities uncovered a plot to attack US interests and citizens in Germany, including US military installations, after US intelligence passed information on to Berlin.

The suspects were arrested in September, and prosecutors said they had attending terrorist training camps in Pakistan and were amassing chemicals to make car bombs.

The agreement also creates a basis for the automated exchange of

fingerprint and DNA data using a procedure modelled on the Prüm Treaty signed by several European Union states in 2005, they said.

In the morning before the deal was signed, Germany's government official for data protection Peter Schaar criticized the plans for the heightened cooperation on Tuesday morning, saying it was another chance for the US to engage in information exchange without adhering to German and EU data protection standards, according to news service DDP.

Schaar told German radio station Deutschlandfunk data exchange law in the United States wasn't explicitly created for information that comes from abroad. "I find that problematic," he told the broadcaster.

Schaar said he was concerned that fingerprints that will be shared will come not only from serious criminals, but from asylum seekers. visa applicants, and demonstrators "without reasonable guarantee of data protection."

Whoever travels to the US from now on will have to provide a fingerprint, Schaar said. The additional access that the US would have to information from the German police and immigration offices can't be justified, he continued.

According to German daily Der Tagesspiegel, if the agreement is reached, the German parliament will still have to give its approval, but no ratification by the Congress will be necessary in the United States.

dpa/ddp/afp

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