EU promises tougher rules on airline passenger data

But the new proposals set no time limit on data retention

The European Commission has adopted a plan to limit third-country access to travelers’ data and intends to use the plan in negotiations with the U.S., Australia and Canada.

The Commission Tuesday approved a proposal for handling passenger name record (PNR) data, which is comprised of all the information that air carriers collect about their passengers. Current European Union data protection laws do not allow air carriers from the E.U. to transfer PNR data to third countries without a legal agreement in place to ensure data privacy protection. Formal PNR agreements between the E.U. and the U.S., Australia and Canada are pending after the European Parliament postponed its vote in May. Under the Lisbon Treaty, Parliament must give its consent to the proposals.

PNR data has been used manually by customs and law enforcement authorities around the world for almost 60 years. But new technology means that such data can now be screened more quickly and easily. This is of huge benefit in combating crime, but also opens up the possibility of misuse of personal data. To prevent this, the new proposal states that PNR data should never be disclosed in bulk but only on a case-by-case basis.

Furthermore, in order to prevent ‘profiling,’ decisions that will have an adverse effect on passengers must never be based on automated processing. A person must be involved before a passenger is denied boarding.

Although aimed at protecting passengers’ rights, the new proposals do not impose a time limit on the retention of passenger data. The Commission says it should not be stored for "longer than necessary," but many factors may be used to justify the retention of PNR data indefinitely -- these include the security threat faced by the country and the conditions under which the data is stored.

Sensitive information such as racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious beliefs or trade union membership may only be accessed in “very exceptional cases,” but it is rare that airlines collect this information.

The data can only be accessed in connection with fighting serious international crime including people trafficking, child abduction, drug trafficking and terrorism, explained Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. Third countries must also ensure a high level of data security and implement independent public oversight of the authorities which use PNR data.

Reciprocity should also be ensured and information about terrorism and serious transnational crime must be shared with Europol, Eurojust and E.U. member states. Passengers who believe that their privacy has been infringed will also have right to redress.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags european commissionsecuritygovernment

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?