EU-US PNR Agreement: A bad day for civil liberties in Europe

By EDRi · March 28, 2012

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Deutsch: [PNR-Abkommen: Ein schwarzer Tag für die europäischen Bürgerrechte |]

On 27 March 2012, the Civil Liberties (LIBE) Committee of the European
Parliament decided to back the new air passenger data deal with the United
States. In her recommendation, the Dutch Liberal MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld
called on her colleagues to reject it. However, to her regret, the LIBE
Committee has endorsed the Agreement despite inadequate legal safeguards.

EDRi had repeatedly pointed out the serious flaws of the Agreement to the
Parliamentarians in the LIBE Committee. The new text does not only severely
undermine fundamental rights but also largely ignores the criteria set by
the European Parliament itself. In its resolutions of May and November
2010, Parliamentarians asked for a reduction of the retention period,
for “push” only as a method of transfer and for a clear prohibition of
profiling – none of these conditions have been met in the new Agreement.

The Commission has neither provided evidence that the collection, storage
and processing of personal data is proportionate at all, let alone why it
appears to believe that 15 years of data retention are necessary and
proportionate. Furthermore, the proposed Agreement does not provide for
sufficient protections and rights for citizens. According to the revised
Agreement, any individual is entitled to “request” their PNR data from the
US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). However, since the Agreement does
not address what citizens are entitled to receive an answer, the DHS can
decline this request. Moreover, the DHS has decided that its use of PNR data
is exempt from the Privacy Act even for U.S. citizens.

In the upcoming plenary vote MEPs now have to either defend fundamental
rights and European citizens’ right to privacy and reject the Agreement – or
undermine the Parliament’s own credibility and vote in favour of the deal.

EDRi comments on the US air passenger data deal (2012)

Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor (9.12.2011)

Article 29 Data Protection Working Party letter to LIBE on PNR (6.01.2012)

(contribution by Kirsten Fiedler – EDRi)