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EU-Canada air passenger data deal illegal: court

[LUXEMBOURG] An EU-Canada deal to share air passenger data in a bid to fight terrorism cannot be passed in its present form as it would breach "fundamental" rights , the European Union's top court said Wednesday.

The deal which the European Union and Ottawa began negotiating in 2010 would interfere with the right to privacy, the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice said in a statement.

"The court declares that the agreement envisaged between the European Union and Canada on the transfer of Passenger Name Record data may not be concluded in its current form," the European Court of Justice said in a statement.

"Several of its provisions are incompatible with the fundamental rights recognised by the EU," the court said.

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In 2010, the EU and Canada began negotiating an agreement to transfer and process so-called passenger name record (PNR) data that passengers give airlines, travel agents and tour operators when they make flight reservations and check-in for flights.

US-style PNR data include itineraries, ticket types, contact details, baggage information and payment information.

But the court said transferring the data would "entail an interference with the fundamental right to respect for private life. Similarly, the envisaged agreement entails an interference with the fundamental right to the protection of personal data." The EU has similar passenger deals with the United States and Australia.

The court's decision comes after it struck down in 2015 a EU-US arrangement allowing firms like Facebook and Google to transfer the personal information of European citizens to the United States.

That decision followed a case in which Austrian activist Max Schrems sued Facebook in Ireland, citing US snooping practices exposed by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

The EU and the United States have since reached a new internet privacy deal.