• U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, center, and Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson (left) at the Wold Travel & Tourism Council Global Summit in Dallas, Texas April 6, 2016. WTTC / Flickr

    Commerce Secretary, Marriott CEO Call for More Data-Sharing to Enhance Security

    IMAGE: U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, center, and Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson (left) at the Wold Travel & Tourism Council Global Summit in Dallas, Texas April 6, 2016. WTTC / Flickr

    As originally published on Skift by Dan Peltier

    U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker called on partner governments to make greater efforts to share data, including passenger name records, to enhance security and bolster confidence among travelers.

    “Partner governments must significantly advance their willingness and capabilities to collect, use, and share information to screen travelers,” Pritzker said Wednesday at the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Global Summit in Dallas, Texas.

    Citing privacy concerns, many countries in Europe have been reluctant to share passenger name records, although a proposal to enhance such information is under consideration. After the recent terrorist bombings in Brussels, European governments’ lack of data-sharing has come under greater scrutiny.

    Prtizker pointed to the shortfalls of the lack of data-sharing among governments.

    “We must develop international systems to share data, including passenger name records, so that we can expedite processing of known and trusted travelers,” Pritzker said. “We also need to ensure that our governments are taking advantage of systems already in place, such as checking documents against Interpol’s lost and stolen passport records. These changes are important not only to the visa waiver program but also to making legitimate travel as smooth and efficient as possible across all nations.”

    During Pritzker’s tenure at the Commerce Department, which began in 2013, 17 U.S. airports implemented kiosks and mobile technology to expedite the international arrivals process. She also helped expand the visa waiver program to its current 38 member countries and lobbied to lower visa wait times for countries, including Brazil and China, with citizens of the latter country now eligible for 10-year visas.

    Some 40 million more people globally visited another country in 2015 compared with 2009, including a significant increase in visitors to the U.S. Pritzker is worried a rollback of the visa waiver program would deter many international travelers from making U.S. trips.

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