The US wants to be able to fully check Norwegian police databases for data on people who travel to the US visa-free, with only an Electronic System Travel Authorisation (ESTA), SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
According to local media, in exchange, Norwegian authorities will have access to the US Department of Homeland Security’s databases, which contain 1.1 billion records about 270 million people.
By searching in Norwegian and other countries’ registers, the US will be able to investigate people far more thoroughly. Thus, they can also refuse entry to more unwanted visitors.
The newspaper also points out that in case of a hit on a particular traveller, the US authorities will be able to extract large amounts of personal data that person, from the Norwegian police databases.
The Norwegian Police Directorate, however, are still sceptical of the arrangement, given current data protection rules.
Statewatch, a UK-registered charity which produces and promotes critical research, policy analysis and investigative journalism, reported in 2022 about the intention of the US authorities to access the databases of the 41 countries under its visa-free entry system.
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is touting ‘Enhanced Border Security Agreements’, offering access to its vast biometric databanks in exchange for other states reciprocating. Reports suggest the UK is already participating, although there is no official confirmation of this.
The same had claimed at the time that in the EU countries, the proposal has not been quite welcomed, and has sparked rage amongst MEPs who believe in guarding privacy, after the proposal was discussed in an informal meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE).
Patrick Breyer of the Pirate Party, a German MEP and a digital rights activist, has insisted that the EU reject the request, even at the cost of losing visa-free travel to the US.
I expect the EU Commission and also the German government to reject the demand of the US authorities and not allow themselves to be blackmailed. If necessary, the visa waiver programme must be terminated by Europe as well.
He had also claimed that such power should not be given to the US over EU citizens’ data, as the country “lacks adequate data and fundamental rights protection”, warning of consequences.