European Parliament adopts harsh resolution on the new PNR agreement
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On 10 July 2007 the members of the European Parliament (EP) adopted with an
overwhelming majority, close to 90%, a Resolution that heavily criticizes
the new PNR agreement struck by the European Commission with the US
Department for Homeland Security (DHS), considering it “substantively
flawed”, in particular by “open and vague definitions and multiple
possibilities for exception”.
The EP considers that the new deal still fails to offer an adequate level of
data protection and that it has been concluded without any involvement of
parliaments from both sides, lacking democratic oversight. The resolution
explains what are the main weak points of the agreement:
a. The handling, collection, use and storage of personal data from air
passengers by US DHS is not founded on a legal agreement but on non-binding
assurances remitted in a letter, which can be unilaterally changed.
b. PNR transfer is not limited to fighting terrorism, it can also be used
for other “unspecified additional purposes” by the US government.
c. Information regarding ethnic origin, political opinions, sex life of
the individual etc. will be also made available and can be used by the US
DHS in exceptional cases.
d. The fields of data which can be accessed from each PNR file have been
reduced from 34 to 19, but “the reduction is largely cosmetic due to the
merging of data fields instead of actual deletion.”
e. Data can be retained for longer periods with the new agreement – from
3,5 years to 15. Besides that, PNR data will be kept for seven years in
“active analytical databases”, leading to a big risk of massive profiling,
contrary to EU principles.
The Parliament has also taken the opportunity to question Commissioner
Frattini’s latest statements regarding the creation of a European PNR
system, that could oblige the airlines flying to the EU to share passenger
private data with Europe’s secret services.
The national parliaments need to approve the agreement and we could see
some interesting developments, taking into consideration that the EP
resolution also asked for a careful examination of the present PNR draft .
Joint resolution “On the PNR agreement with the United States” (10.07.2007)
MEPs fear that new PNR agreement fails to protect citizens’ data
Draft text – PNR Agreement (28.06.2007)