Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Passenger Name Record - your flying data forever in retention of the US government?

As we mentioned previously (Calling for better air passengers' rights) the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament (LIBE) voted yesterday on the draft recommendation on the conclusion of the Agreement between the EU and the US for the use and transfer of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data. PNR data is information provided by passengers and collected by air carriers during reservation and check-in procedures (e.g. name, address, phone number, credit card details, travel agency data, baggage information, seat number, but also 'sensitive data' like religious meal choice or requests for assistance due to a medical condition). This agreement intends to help in prevention and combating of terrorism and other serious transnational crime (defined as crimes punishable by at least 3 years of imprisonment under US law). As previously mentioned the members of the LIBE were split as to whether to agree to this Agreement, but with a small majority (31-23) the draft recommendation to decline to give the consent was rejected. The Agreement will now be put to a plenary vote on the 19th of April. If approved it will bind for 7 years. If rejected, the Parliament may want to vote on extending the currently, provisionally binding Agreement of 2007.

The main problems that some of the members of the LIBE had with the Agreement are as follows (see also: Transfer of air passengers' data to the US - What's at stake?):

  • PNR data could also serve "to identify persons who would be subject to closer questioning or examination"
  • the duration for which PNR data will be stored (up to 5 years in an active database, after first 6 months it is to be depersonalised, up to 10 years in a dormant database, after 10 years data would be fully anonymized which means that the retention period is indefinite)

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