26 January 2021
The European Commission recently published the results of a review of the EU-Australia Passenger Name Record agreement, which governs the transfer of data on air passengers travelling between the EU and Australia to police surveillance and profiling units. One conclusion of the review is that Australia should submit more "analytical information obtained from PNR data" to EU member states and agencies.
Passenger Name Record (PNR) data is collected by travel agents, tour operators, airlines and others when people book airline tickets. This type of data has been of interest to law enforcement authorities for some time, as it can be used to detect 'persons of interest', for example based on their travel patterns or credit card data.
The current rules between the EU and Australia date to 2012, and in a recent review of the operation of the agreement, the European Commission concluded that Australia needs to send more data to European law enforcement agencies:
"As regards issuses to be further addressed, Australia is invited to enhance its efforts to ensure reciprocity and pro-actively share analytical information obtained from PNR data with Member States and, where appropriate, with Europol and Eurojust."
See: Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and to the Council on the joint review of the implementation of the Agreement between the European Union and Australia on the processing and transfer of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data by air carriers to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (SWD(2021) 5 final, 21 January 2021, pdf)
The EU-Australia agreement permits the exchange of such data, in Article 6(1):
"The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service shall ensure the availability, as soon as practicable, of relevant and appropriate analytical information obtained from PNR data to police or judicial authorities of the Member State of the European Union concerned, or to Europol or Eurojust within the remit of their respective mandates, and in accordance with law enforcement or other information sharing agreements or arrangements between Australia and any Member State of the European Union, Europol or Eurojust, as applicable."
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