EU-PNR: Travel surveillance and profiling: European Parliament voting on PNR proposal today

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The European Parliament's civil liberties committee will today (15 July) vote on whether or not to approve the proposed PNR (Passenger Name Record) Directive. This will establish an EU-wide legal basis for handing air passengers' data to national law enforcement units, which will process and analyse the data in the name of combating terrorism and crime. The European Parliament's political groups are divided on the proposal.

The vote concerns a compromise report drawn up by British Conservative MEP Timothy Kirkhope.

Agence Europe reports that: "Over 900 amendments have been put down to Kirkhope's report and he has been involved in a hectic series of meetings before the date of 15 July in an effort to find compromises. How the vote will go remains, however, “difficult to predict”, a Parliament source has revealed, such are the sensitivities on the issue of the rights of the individual. Surprises cannot be ruled out...

"...The issues to be agreed are many: the length of time the data should be retained, with groups varying between 30 days and 7 years; whether all international and internal European, or even domestic, flights should be covered by this mechanism; the crimes that should be covered by the system, with some groups wanting the PNR to be restricted to terrorism alone and the rapporteur and other groups seeking to extend it to human trafficking and child pornography."

If the proposal passes, the Parliament will have consented to a legal basis for the mandatory surveillance and profiling of air passengers. Once the new legislation is in place, it is likely that demands will then be made for boat and rail travel to be put under closer watch: the mass surveillance of mass transport in Europe.

Context and background:

  • Travel surveillance: Commission attempts to soothe PNR critics with "workable compromise" (Statewatch News Online, January 2015)
  • Travel surveillance: PNR by the back door (Statewatch News Online, October 2014)
  • Council of Europe, Passenger Name Records, data mining & data protection: the need for strong safeguards (July 2015, pdf)
  • European Parliament, Briefing on EU PNR (pdf, April 2015)

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