More surveillance: EU Parliament adopts proposal on airline passengers data sharing

On Wednesday, the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties (LIBE) adopted — by a slim majority (32 votes to 27) — the EU Passenger Name Records (EU-PNR) directive proposal, presented by Rapporteur Timothy Kirkhope, a conservative MEP from the UK.

As Access Now has warned several times, the EU-PNR directive poses a threat to the fundamental rights to privacy and data protection, and we are gravely concerned by this decision.

The EU-PNR directive would establish the systematic collection, retention, and analysis of passenger data for everyone flying into or leaving the EU. Passenger data contains a plethora of personal information, such as passengers’ personal and contact details, itinerary, payment methods, and sometimes even car and hotel bookings.

MEPs decided to adopt this measure despite the fact that the necessity and proportionality of this legislation has not been demonstrated, and despite the fact that no evidence has been provided to support the effectiveness of PNR schemes in combating terrorism or enhancing security.

Notably, the adopted proposal appears to be in contradiction with settled EU case law, in particular the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in April 2014 invalidating the Data Retention Directive.

Of particular concern to us are the provisions recommending that all passenger data collected be retained for up to five years, and those which enable authorities to compare PNR data with information in other databases for profiling purposes.

This legislative proposal will now be discussed by the three EU government institutions — the Council, Commission and Parliament — in the so-called trialogue discussion. The EU Parliament must overturn this legislative proposal when a final vote on the text is requested — if the proposal is not fundamentally modified during the trialogue negotiations, which might prove to be difficult due to the Member States’ evident willingness adopt the legislation.

Access Now deplores the decision made this week by members of the LIBE Committee, and we pledge to continue fighting to see that this proposal is ultimately rejected.

Contribution by Justine Chauvin.