UK Passenger Travel Data in Advance

By EDRi · February 2, 2006

Security services and the police in UK will have a new power. According to
the immigration bill going through the Parliament, airlines will have to
give them advanced access to personal online details of all passengers
travelling in and out Great Britain. The home secretary, Charles Clarke
announced the intention to extend the system to domestic flights as well.

This comes after a three-year pilot system that has been used in Britain for
international flights, allowing access to passenger data after the flights
left. Home Office stated that access to such information before the flights
would have had much better results in stopping any terrorist suspects on
board flights in and out Britain.

Certain airlines expressed the fear that such a procedure would increase the
check-in time. As an operator assessed, the check-in time might increase by
an average of 40 seconds per passenger. This estimation however is made by
including the necessary time to fill in the home address and birthplace,
information that might be soon available on a machine-readable strip on
passengers’ identity documents.

The police claim the scheme will enable them to reduce the number of cases
innocent passengers are stopped or other types of errors by a more targeted

However, several groups like the NGO Privacy International or the Liberal
Democrats expressed their concern regarding the surveillance of domestic
passengers. As Alistair Carmichael, the new Liberal Democrat home affairs
spokesman, put it Great Britain was creating “a surveillance infrastructure
unparalleled in the free world”.

“I am extremely concerned at the suggestion that ordinary people could be
put under routine surveillance on domestic flights. Tracking cross-border
movements in and out of the UK is necessary for proper immigration control.
But there will have to be some pretty compelling arguments before we allow
that principle to be extended to every journey inside the UK.” said Alistair

Security services and police to get UK air passenger details in advance