By KTA News Team |

Israel’s entry into the US visa waiver program could be delayed due to European Union (EU) privacy laws, according to recent reports. The program requires Israel to share personal information about all travelers entering and exiting the country, including Passenger Name Record and Advance Passenger Information issued in Europe, as well as airline data. However, such data sharing violates EU privacy laws, and airlines traveling to and from Europe will not comply with such a requirement.

The data would be transferred to a national database connected to Israel’s tax authorities and would also be accessible to the Shin Bet, Mossad, and Israel Police. Although the US is not concerned with the data’s collection location, it does care about who has the power to collect and analyze it. Israel is expected to apply the requirements to direct flights to and from the US by the end of April 2023 and to all incoming and outgoing flights by the end of September 2023.

However, EU member states demand an international agreement to regulate information transfer and privacy maintenance. As a result, Yishai Don Yehiya, an official with Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority, notes that EU member states may refuse to comply, making up 60% of air travel to Israel. Israel is currently in talks with the European Union to create legislation to align with European standards and facilitate agreement.

Currently, 40 countries participate in the US visa waiver program, including 24 of the 27 EU member states. Despite the fact that the EU already shares such data as a program participant, it remains unclear why the organization would object to Israel’s participation. Nonetheless, compliance with EU privacy laws is essential for Israel to enter the US visa waiver program, and the country will need to negotiate a solution with the EU to move forward.