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EU leads call for global agreement on the exchange of passenger data (PNR)
01 February 2004
The Working Party on Aviation of the Council of the European Union (the 15 EU governments) have agreed on a submission to the next meeting of the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) calling for a global system on the prior transmission of passenger data (PNR) prior to take-off.
It says that several members of the ICAO are introducing PNR schemes - the USA, which has no data protection for non-US citizens, and Canada and Australia which do have effective data protection laws, see: Article 29 working party: The level of protection ensured in Australia for the transmission of Passenger Name Record data from airlines
(pdf). The rationale is that:
"Law enforcement authorities around the world are increasingly requesting requesting access to passenger data... against the threat of terrorism"
The EU wants to get a "single model" at the global level to combat: "terrorism, terrorism-related serious crimes with international implications".
A definition of "terrorism-related serious crimes with international implications" are not defined.
But it is interesting to note that it does not extend to "other serious crimes" as in the proposed EU-US agreement on the exchange of PNR data. It also deviates from the EU-US agreement when it comes to privacy and data protection rights. First, it says that passengers should be told "to whom the data is being made available" whereas the USA is unable to name all the federal, state and other agencies who will have access to EU passenger data. Second, it says that there should be "safeguards for limiting the onward transfer of PNR data to other parties other than the primary recipient".
It is important to note that the Council has adopted a position for negotiation based on a Commission paper - but the European Parliament and civil society have little chance to debate or change the position.
1. An International Framework for the Transfer of Airline Passenger Data (Passenger Name Record- PNR) to Public Authorities - submission of a working paper to ICAO
2. See also Statewatch's Observatory on PNR & USA
3. See also Statewatch's Observatory on EU PNR scheme