EU ex­ec­u­tive pon­ders new air­line data rules af­ter Paris at­tacks

The Financial Daily - - INTERNATIONAL -

BRUS­SELS: The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is re­view­ing plans on shar­ing air­line pas­sen­ger data to ad­dress pri­vacy con­cerns while still seek­ing to im­prove se­cu­rity fol­low­ing mil­i­tant at­tacks in Paris.

A sys­tem for shar­ing air­line travel data among Euro­pean Union coun­tries put for­ward by the Com­mis­sion in 2011 - known as Pas­sen­ger Name Record ( PNR) - has been re­sisted by law­mak­ers who ar­gue it in­fringes pri­vacy by in­sti­tut­ing mass track­ing and surveil­lance of all trav­ellers.

The Com­mis­sion, the EU ex­ec­u­tive, pro­poses re­duc­ing the pe­riod air­line pas­sen­ger data is held be­fore be­ing stripped of its iden­ti­fy­ing el­e­ments from 30 days to seven days, ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ment seen by Reuters.

The data will still be stored and ac­ces­si­ble for five years if needed for ter­ror­ism cases. It will only be held for four years if needed for transna­tional crimes.

Sev­en­teen peo­ple were killed this month in at­tacks in Paris by three is­lamist mil­i­tants, them­selves shot dead in po­lice ac­tions. The fe­male part­ner of one of the gun­men was sought time by French po­lice be­fore it emerged that she had flown to Turkey, then trav­elled on­wards to Syria.

The Com­mis­sion also pro­posed nar­row­ing the types of crime for which the data can be ac­cessed - namely "ter­ror­ism and se­ri­ous transna­tional crime" and lim­it­ing who can ob­tain it.

"Cre­at­ing a vast data drag­net is a to­tal waste of re­sources, which would be far bet­ter used to carry out tar­geted surveil­lance of real sus­pects," said Jan Philipp Al­brecht of the Greens group in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment.

The Com­mis­sion could adopt its amended pro­posal as early as Fe­bru­ary 10, the doc­u­ment says, although that would de­lay any adop­tion un­til at least the sec­ond half of this year as ne­go­ti­a­tions in the par­lia­ment and among the EU's 28 mem­ber states would have to start from scratch.

Ti­mothy Kirkhope, a Con­ser­va­tive mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment re­spon­si­ble for the cur­rent, stalled pro­posal has hinted he could present an amended ver­sion of PNR in early Fe­bru­ary to meet pri­vacy con­cerns.

The EU al­ready has air­line pas­sen­ger data shar­ing agree­ments with the United States and Canada, and some coun­tries within the bloc such as France have put in place their own pas­sen­ger record sys­tems, but there is no EU- wide sys­tem.- Reuters

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