Hungary's President says no to the PNR agreement

By EDRi · December 6, 2006

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

The Hungarian President Laszlo Solyom decided not to sign the national law
regarding the promulgation of the EU-US PNR (Passenger Name Records)
agreement and sent it back to the Parliament, considering that it can be

This is one of the few set-backs of the new EU-US PNR agreement concluded in
October 2006, even though there have been numerous critics to the content of
the new agreement that makes possible for air companies to send to US
authorities the personal data of the passengers that were registered in the
booking system.

According to the Hungarian President “it is necessary that the Parliament
make possible the forwarding of data in the act on promulgation of the
international agreement only in case the person in question has explicitly
approved of it. The President’s opinion is that a regulation of such content
would not be contradictory to the international agreement.”

Therefore Mr. Solyom asked the Parliament to re-discuss the bill and to
complete it with a rule that stipulates for the explicit approval of the
person in question to forward of his data abroad.

According to the presidential press release, Mr. Solyom has had
consultations with the data protection ombudsman and the general director of
Malev (Hungarian Airlines). Both of them considered that returning the
bill did not prevent the operation of overseas flights of the national air

Adam Foldes , the Data Protection Program Director within the the Hungarian
Civil Liberties Union commented on the events:
“Even if the Hungarian law on promulgating the PNR agreement includes
provisions on asking for the passengers’ consent for handling their personal
data, it won’t be very useful. How can anybody regard the consent as freely
given when the passengers are not allowed to board or disembark the airplane
without providing them.
Although the President’s veto is not futile: the current agreement shall
expire no later than 31 July 2007. His veto should be a benchmark for the
Hungarian Government in the renegotiations. ”

The Government might not push too much this issue since the U.S. President
promised last week that he will ask the Congress to waive the visa
obligations of the new EU member states. Dr. Kinga Göncz, the Minister of
Foreign Affairs was asked by journalists if the President’s action could
jeopardise Hungary’s chances in obtaining a visa free status from the U.S.
The minister replied she hopes the problem will be solved soon as it might
cause problems in the long run.

Communique: Today Laszlo Solyom has returned to the Parliament the bill
about the promulgation of the agreement on registration of travellers’ data
concluded between the European Union and the United States of America.

The Hungarian President of the Republic has vetoed the ratification of the
EU-US PNR Agreement (29.11.2006)

Draft of the Act on PNR Agreement (only in Hungarian, 10.2006)

EDRI-gram: New EU-US interim deal on Passenger Name Record (11.10.2006)