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!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentsecurityeuropean commission

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

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

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.

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?