EP and Article 29 WP opinions on PNR transfers to third countries

By EDRi · November 17, 2010

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Deutsch: [EP und Artikel 29 Gruppe zur Übermittlung von Fluggastdaten an Drittstaaten | http://www.unwatched.org/node/2361]

As negotiations continue between EU and USA on the issue of air passenger
data (PNR) transfer, so is the debate on the issue between the European
Commission and the other EU bodies.

The European Parliament (EP) issued on 11 November 2010 a resolution on the
matter. While reaffirming its determination to fight terrorism and organised
crime, and welcoming the Commission’s recent communication on the global
approach to transfers of PNR data to third countries, the EP re-emphasizes
the firm belief that that civil liberties and fundamental rights must be
protected, “including the rights to privacy, informational
self-determination and data protection”.

As proportionality remains a key issue for the EP, the resolution asks from
the Commission to give “factual evidence that the collection, storage, and
processing of PNR data is necessary for each of the stated purposes”.

As it has a veto right, the EP requires to be fully informed on any PNR
developments related to “bilateral agreements and memorandums of
understanding between Member States and the USA concerning the exchange of
law-enforcement data and participation in the US Visa Waiver Programme, as
well as the One-Stop Security programme”. On this occasion, it reminds us
that “bilateral memorandums of understanding between Member States and the
USA, alongside negotiations between the EU and the USA, are contrary to the
principle of loyal cooperation between the EU institutions”.

In October, European Data Protection Supervisor Peter Hustinx also
expressed his concerns regarding the necessity and legitimacy of PNR
collection schemes and called for better safeguards in international PNR
agreements. “The conditions for collection and processing of PNR data should
be considerably restricted. I am particularly concerned about the use of PNR
schemes for risk assessment or profiling,” he said.

He also criticised the Commission for doing its work in reverse order,
dealing with international PNR agreements before having any kind of system
within the EU. An intra-EU equivalent scheme is not scheduled until 2012.

“We have PNR (agreements) with the US and the EU. It is a lack of logic that
we are not sharing (PNR) in the EU,” said Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia
Malmström who added that all the state members had required such an

On 15 November, Article 29 Data Protection Working Party (WP) issued an
opinion stating that the European data protection authorities belonging to
the WP remained critical on the exchange of PNR data with countries outside
the EU.

In its opinion, issued as a reaction to the European Commission
communication on the global approach to PNR transfers of 21 September 2010,
Article 29 WP questions “the necessity of large-scale profiling for law
enforcement purposes on the basis of passengers’ data.”

Article 29 WP believes there still is no objective proof or statistics
showing that PNR data are valuable in combating transnational crime and

The data protection authorities consider that although the Commission has
made some movements in the right direction there is still room for
improvement such as the standards referring to onward transfer of collected
data where “the principle of purpose limitation should apply, which means
that the collected data may not be used by other government authorities in
the receiving country for purposes not related to the combating of
transnational serious crime and terrorism.”

European Parliament resolution of 11 November 2010 on the global approach to
transfers of passenger name record (PNR) data to third countries, and on the
recommendations from the Commission to the Council to authorise the opening
of negotiations between the European Union and Australia, Canada and the
United States (11.11.2010)

Article 29 Data Protection Working Party – PRESS RELEASE – ‘Data Protection
Authorities Critical on sharing passengers’ data’ (15.11.2010)

EU to revive debate over air passenger data (12.11.2010)

EC Communication – On the global approach to transfers of Passenger Name
Record (PNR) data to third countries (21.09.2010)

Opinion 7/2010 on European Commission’s Communication on the global approach
to transfers of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data to third countries