Monday

27th Jun 2022

EU data chief says passenger information bill is unjustified

The EU’s top data protection guardian on Friday (25 September) spoke out against a bill that would hoover up the private data of anyone taking a commercial flight in and out of Europe.

“No elements reasonably substantiate the need for the default collection of massive amounts of the personal information of millions of travellers”, said Giovanni Buttarelli, the European data protection supervisor.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The bill – known as the EU Passenger Name Record (EU PNR) - is designed to combat terrorism and crime but has drawn sharp criticism from civil rights defenders.

The bill is set to grant security officials and police, including the EU’s police agency Europol, access to 19 pieces of passenger information, such as travel dates, ticket information, contact details, travel agency details, means of payment, seat numbers, and luggage details.

The personal details of hundreds of millions of people will be stored for up to 5 years in a searchable database. Names will be anonymised after 30 days but can be released if requested. After 5 years, the data is deleted.

But Buttarelli says there is no justification for “massive, non-targeted and indiscriminate collection of passengers' personal information”.

He said authorities have yet to explain why it is necessary and why it is urgently needed. Instead, he recommended that legislators come up with another plan to target known suspects.

“[It] would be more effective than profiling all travellers”, he said.

Critics are also up in arms because the EU PNR turns everyone into a suspect for a crime they haven’t committed.

They also note that the European Court of Justice already rejected a similar EU law last year because of its general and indiscriminate collection of people’s data.

The EU PNR was proposed in 2011 but ran into problems with the European parliament’s civil liberties committee. It was then pushed through following the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris earlier this year.

British conservative Timothy Kirkhope, who steered the bill through parliament, says it has built-in safeguards to protect people’s privacy.

“We live in a very dangerous world, we live in a world where there have to be certain compromises, where we do need to able to provide information to our security and police services around Europe”, he told this website in July.

Talks with the Council, representing member states, have since begun with negotiators hoping to reach an agreement before the end of the year.

EU ministers back air passenger data sweep

After years of talks, EU interior ministers backed a proposal to set up an EU PNR system but it still needs the backing of the European Parliament.

Agenda

Panama and PNR on EU agenda This Week

Panama Papers revelations, that could topple the Maltese government, will be debated in the EP next week. Controversial legislation to share passenger name records will also be voted on.

Stakeholder

The CPDP conference wants multidisciplinary digital future

During the Computers, Privacy and Data Protection (CPDP) conference, many high-level discussions will touch upon the dynamics of decision-making in the design of new technologies, including the importance of inclusion, diversity, and ethics perspectives within these processes.

EU Commission won't probe 'Pegasus' spyware abuse

The European Commission says people should file their complaints with national authorities in countries whose governments are suspected of using an Israeli-made Pegasus spyware against them.

News in Brief

  1. Possible terror attack halts gay pride in Norway
  2. Belgian PM: Gas shortage requires joint response
  3. Bulgarian MPs set conditions for lifting enlargement veto
  4. Latvia: We need a brigade-size Nato force to 'feel safe'
  5. Deal reached on controversial energy treaty reform
  6. EU carbon emissions from energy up 6% in 2021
  7. Germany step closer to gas rationing
  8. Albania: EU 'disgrace' at lack of enlargement progress

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  2. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  4. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBHow price increases affect construction workers
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic think tank examines influence of tech giants

Latest News

  1. EU summit's uncertainty in the face of economic war
  2. Next winter's gas looms large at EU summer summit
  3. Ukraine becomes EU candidate after 120 days of war
  4. How to enhance EU cybersecurity
  5. Competing options for EU enlargement
  6. MEPs demand to exit 'ecocide treaty' after reforms 'fail'
  7. Finland optimistic in Turkey talks over Nato
  8. Hungary's global-tax veto seen as 'blackmail'

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us