EU-Australia agreement on travel data transfers adopted by EP

By EDRi · November 2, 2011

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Deutsch: [EP: Fluggastdaten-Abkommen mit Australien beschlossen |]

As expected, the European Parliament (EP) gave its consent to the agreement
on Passenger Name Records with Australia (yes 463, no 96, abstentions 11) on
27 October 2011. It had already been signed by the Australian Ambassador,
Brendan Nelson, and Ambassador Jan Tombinski on behalf of the EU on 29
September and approved by the EP’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and
Home Affairs (LIBE) on 17 October.

As a result of the agreement, a total of 19 categories of travel data
including credit card information, phone numbers, meal preferences and IP
addresses are being transferred and stored for 5.5 years by Australian
authorities. The retention period has therefore not been reduced compared to
the 2008 agreement.

In its Resolutions of 5 May 2010 and 11 November 2010 the European
Parliament had raised several concerns regarding this agreement: it asked
for judicial oversight, for a legal proportionality test, for a detailed
opinion by the Fundamental Rights Agency, for a ban of data mining and
profiling and for the limitation of the length of storage periods.
Having received none of these safeguards, that it had previously considered
essential for the protection of the fundamental rights of European citizens,
the Parliament nonetheless chose to abandon its previous position and
support the proposal. Up to date, no evidence has been provided that the
collection, storage and processing of this range of personal data for this
length of time is proportionate and necessary.

In reaction to the European Parliament’s consent to the agreement, several
Members of the European Parliament voiced criticism. Albrecht (Greens/EFA,
Germany) called the agreement “disproportionate”, while Ehrenhauser
(Non-aligned/Austria) said the result of the vote was a “severe blow to the
credibility of the European Parliament as a guardian of civil rights in

This is the first of three proposed agreements on the transfer of travel
data from the EU to third countries. The USA and Canada want to store data
of millions of transatlantic air passengers for 15 years. Moreover, the EU
is planning a European system for using PNR data to cover all flights in and
out of Europe, while the UK has demanded PNR profiling also for intra-EU

The Council was so confident of the Parliament abandoning its previously
held views on this dossier that it published a background note (page 8) with
the result, a full two days before MEPs actually voted on the EU-Australia

Justice and Home Affairs Council (25.10.2011)

(Contribution by Kirsten Fiedler – EDRi)