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PNR: Council wants to "explore the necessity and feasibility" of the surveillance and profiling of all forms of mass transport
23.10.19

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A draft set of Council conclusions calls for "a thorough impact assessment conducted by the European Commission on widening the scope of PNR Directive to other travelling forms than air traffic."

See: Widening the scope of passenger name record (PNR) data legislation to transport forms other than air traffic - An impact assessment - Draft Council Conclusions (12649/19, LIMITE, 4 October 2019, pdf)

The Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive mandates the police surveillance and profiling of almost all people travelling by plane into, within or out of the EU, and in recent months national authorities have been discussing whether and how those rules might be expanded to other forms of mass transport.

The draft conclusions were "welcomed" by delegations at a meeting of the Council's Working Party on Information Exchange and Data Protection (DAPIX) on 10 October (pdf), although the minutes of that meeting indicate that a revised version of the conclusions will be drafted for final submission to the Council for approval.

The conclusions discussed by DAPIX call for the Commission to undertake an impact assessment on widening the scope of the PNR Directive after it has been reviewed in 2020.

According to the PNR Directive (Eur-Lex, link), the Commission must conduct a review "of all the elements of the Directive" by 25 May 2020, giving particular attention to: data protection; the necessity and proportionality of processing PNR data in the way required by the Directive; the data retention period; and how effectively information is exchanged between member states.

If the Council has its way, an impact assessment on widening the scope of the PNR Directive would follow this - seemingly precluding the outcome of the review itself.

If the impact assessment goes ahead, the draft conclusions say it should:

"closely study the legal, operational, technical and other challenges and, especially including:

- the travel forms to be included,
- the impact on data protection and other fundamental rights,
- the extent to which operators dealing with other means of transportation already collect PNR data in the normal course of business, and the impact of additional mandatory processing of their business data,
- the impact on widely used travel options with flexible tickets not bound to a specific person or a specific connection,
- the lack of common protocols and data formats,
- the compliance with the principles of proportionality and necessity,
- the different needs in Member States due to their geographical situation,
- the costs for both public and private sector"

The final provision of the conclusions states that "the aim is not to have a legislative proposal for the near future, but to explore the necessity and feasibility of the collection, storage and processing of PNR data from other transportation forms than air traffic."

Further reading

EU may extend 'passenger name records' to rail and sea (EUobserver, 6 August 2019)

EU Council Presidency proposes follow-up on extending PNR to sea and rail traffic (Statewatch News, 3 August 2019)

EU PNR extended to internal flights and only a matter of time before PNR is extended to sea, rail and road traffic too (Statewatch News, 23 July 2019)

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