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In late May 2011, the new draft agreements on the transfer and retention of
air passenger data between the EU and the United States and Australia
respectively have leaked to the public. The re-negotiation of the
agreements from 2007, which have since then been provisionally applied,
had become necessary after the European Parliament refused to vote on
them in May 2010.

The new agreements do not substantially improve the situation with
regards to the old ones. They both require that data of air passengers
is transferred to public authorities (DHS in the US, Customs and Border
Protection in Australia) ahead of a flight; they allow for profiling,
i.e. the use of data for sorting assengers into risk categories based on
pre-defined and secret criteria without an initial suspicion or criminal
lead; and they allow for retention of the data up to 5.5 (Australia) and
15 (US) years. There are also provisions for onward transfer of the data
to third agencies and countries.

The agreement with the US met heavy criticism both among EU member
states as well as among Members of the European Parliament, and provoked
an emergency reaction from the UK Justice secretary as well as the US
ambassador to the EU. At the moment, there are talks with the negotiator
(DG Home Affairs of the European Commission) to re-open the text, though
improvements have been made very unlikely by a recent resolution of the
US Senate that rejects European privacy demands.

The agreement with Australia is less prominent, but still highly
relevant. There is a small blocking minority in the Council, consisting
of Germany, France, Belgium, Czech Republic, Ireland, Austria and
Portugal, that is mainly concerned about the provisions on transfer to
third countries, and sometimes about the retention periods (Germany,
France). The Commission is not willing to re-negotiate, though. The
Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers on 9th/10th June might
overcome the blocking minority and the parliamentary reservations from
some countries, and adopt the agreement. At the moment, a veto in the
European Parliament is unlikely. In the worst case, the Australia
agreement may be concluded before the summer break and open the
floodgates for other such agreements, and for the first time accepting
profiling and preventive policing.

Privacy activists from EDRi members, Digitale
Gesellschaft and FoeBuD, as well as from EDRi observer AK Vorrat and
other groups, met in Brussels from 27th to 30th May to do a legal,
technical and political analysis, coordinate their short-term work and
plan for long-term collaboration with others. A mailing list will be set
up shortly.

Comprehensive PNR Wiki by AK Vorrat

EDRi: Commission plans to present flawed, illegal PNR proposal as
“fait accompli” (23.05.2011)

EC COM(2011) 280 final – Proposal for a Council Decision on the
signature of the Agreement between the European Union and Australia on
the processing and transfer of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data by air
carriers to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service

EU Council Document 10453/11 – Draft Agreement between the United States
of America and the European Union on the use and transfer of Passenger
Name Record data to the United States Department of Homeland Security (20.05.2011)

The Guardian: US to store passenger data for 15 years (25.05.2011)