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US won't tell Britons why they're banned from travelling to America

Daily Mail | August 26, 2007
JASON LEWIS

British holidaymakers and businessmen banned from travelling to America under anti-terror laws will no longer have any right to know why they have been turned away.

The US Department of Homeland Security, set up following the September 11 attacks, last week applied for a blanket ban on disclosing the information it holds on Britons and other EU citizens.

Last month, Britain agreed to send the secretive US department all details of UK passengers before they fly to America.

The agency was given full access to huge amounts of information on individual passengers, including details of their credit cards, home addresses, e-mail addresses, frequent-flier records and even requests for special meals.

And, despite a huge privacy row in the European Parliament, it was also given permission to keep the airlines' lists of passengers' names for at least eight years.

The Department of Homeland Security last week said it intended to make this information available for 'routine use' by the intelligence community 'to protect the United States from terrorist threats' and to tackle cases of identity theft.

But it said it was also applying for a complete ban on disclosing the information it holds on individuals and then uses to turn passengers away.

Last week, it published a "notice of proposed rulemaking" for an exception from the US Privacy Act, which allows individuals to check records the American government holds on them.

The law is supposed to allow anyone to check files for mistakes but the new exception rule is being brought in on the grounds of national security and law enforcement.

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