Dispute between UK government and EU over the use of PNR

By EDRi · August 27, 2008

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

UK Government fights EU proposals to restrict the way it uses passenger name
record (PNR) information to monitor immigration, claiming that the data it
collects is crucial to control cross-border movements.

With the EU planning to make all European states share PNR data, UK
government argues there is a “real risk” the action “would degrade e-Borders
by prohibiting the use of PNR data for combating immigration offences”. A
spokeswoman for the Home Office stated: “The collection of passenger name
records is a vital tool in Britain’s fight against organised crime,
terrorism and immigration offenders.”

UK wants to go further than EU and share data from internal EU flights, sea
and rail travel. The House of Lords EU Select Committee warned in a report
published in July that if the government made pressures for radical changes
to the EU proposal, it might loose the co-operation of Europe. The report
recommended that the PNR data be used for the purpose of fighting against
terrorism and combating serious crime, stating at the same time that a clear
definition should be given to what “serious crime” means. It recommended a
comprehensive list that would cover the term.

The Home Office responded on 6 August accepting the need for greater clarity
about what crimes should be covered by “serious crime” but rejected the
recommendation for a comprehensive list as being “overly prescriptive”. It
also said that its e-Borders programme gathering PNR data on 50
million passengers’ movements, had been a “real success in strengthening the
UK border” leading to 25 000 alerts and 2 100 arrests for offences ranging
from murder and possession of firearms to drug-smuggling. It also stated
that loosing Europe’s support was not a possibility. “Negotiations are
ongoing, there are outstanding issues but we will work closely with the EU
to agree a text.”

Dominic Grieve, Shadow Home Secretary, said that if the government wanted to
extend the purposes of using passengers’ details, it should be precise about
“what the objective is, why it is necessary and what safeguards it will put
in place to protect the privacy of the innocent” and he added: “Given the
government’s proven and serial inability to protect personal data the public
will not agree to this lightly.”

The Home Affairs Spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, Chris Huhne, also
considered this was another example that the government was more and more
invading people’s personal lives. He also commented: “It is deeply worrying
that ministers are prepared to forgo the possible co-operation of our
European partners.”

Actually, even the EU Proposal for a Council Framework Decision on the
use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) is far from perfect, facing large
opposition from privacy rights advocates and associations.

In a letter to the Council of the European Union, ECTAA, the European Travel
Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Associations, makes several proposals for the
Framework Decision. Among other things, the members of the association
believe the decision should only cover data for passengers on flight into
and out of the EU and that it should not be extended to intra-EU flights.

Gov’t battles EU over use of air-passenger data (11.08.2008)

Ministers’ fears on EU data plan (6.08.2008)

Clash erupts on use of airline data to fight crime (7.08.2008)

European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Associations (ECTAA) letter to
the Council of EU on Proposal for a Council Framework Decision on the use of
Passenger Name Record (PNR) data for law enforcement purposes (1.08.2008)

EDRIgram – PNR Data infringes human rights (9.04.2008)