Should we register all international travel by air, train, and bus? Dutch liberal MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld doesn’t think so. And she has got a point.
Belgium has sealed an agreement with France and the Netherlands to draw up passenger lists and introduce passport checks on Thalys and Eurostar international rail services.
I cannot say that I am surprised. I have seen this coming, for a long time:
Jambon’s plan takes this initiative [PNR] and applies it to other means of transport. It will mean that anyone wanting to travel by rail, sea or by bus to another EU country will have to register their information.
Fighting terrorism is just a pretext. Politicians want ever more control and surveillance of the people. They will not be satisfied until there is total control.
European Parliament: Parliament backs EU directive on use of Passenger Name Records (PNR) »
The European Parliament will have what is believed to be its’ final vote on EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) in Strasbourg next Thursday, April 14.
For years, the Parliament has tried to stop registration of sensitive personal information related to air travel. But after the latest terrorist attacks, pressure has mounted, and everything suggests that the dossier will be approved during next week’s session.
From the European Parliaments webpage:
Passenger Name Record (PNR) data is information provided by passengers and collected by air carriers during reservation and check-in procedures. Non-carrier economic operators, such as travel agencies and tour operators, sell package tours making use of charter flights for which they also collect and process PNR data from their customers.
PNR data include several different types of information, such as travel dates, travel itinerary, ticket information, contact details, baggage information and payment information.
Parliamentarians have had serious concerns about the impact of PNR on fundamental rights and data protection.
Now he PNR dossier is said to be voted together with the EU Data Protection package – at least allowing some coordinated approach.
Formally, EU PNR is about information regarding passengers arriving on flights from non-EU countries. But there is no doubt this will also apply to intra-EU flights.
So, governments will store information about all of people’s air travel, in detail. This is to be added to information about e.g. all of our telecommunications and our bank transactions. The grip tightens.
(It could have been even worse. Earlier on in the process, the U.K. put forward the idea that all our train travel, car rentals, and hotel stays should also be registered. But I guess they decided to take this one step at a time.)
If nothing short of a miracle occurs, next Thursday the EU will take its’ next step towards Big Brotherism.
• EP: Final votes on PNR and data protection package »
• News on PNR from the EP (16 July 2015) »
• EP: Much Ado About PNR (19 Jan. 2015 »
• EP: EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) proposal: an overview (14 Dec. 2015) »
• MEPs refuse to vote on PNR before Council strengthens data protection (9 March 2016) »
The EU is about to adopt a new regulation regarding registration of our air travel.
Passenger Name Records (PNR) has earlier been blocked by the European Parliament, because of privacy concerns. But after the Parris attacks, it seems to be impossible to prevent this form of surveillance.
The Directive is being adopted despite concerns raised by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) and Article 29 Working Party. A study undertaken for the Council of Europe explained that “no serious, verifiable evidence has been produced by the proponents of compulsory suspicionless data collection to show that data mining and profiling by means of the bulk data in general, or the compulsory addition of bulk PNR data to the data mountains already created in particular, is even suitable to the ends supposedly being pursued –let alone that it is effective”
Notice that data will be saved up to five years — not six months (as many politicians would like us to believe).
The EU and US have reached a data protection “Umbrella agreement”.
The spin in the news is “EU citizens will have the right to sue US in case of privacy breaches”. (Link»)
And on the European Commissions web site eurocrats are trying to white wash the agreement. (Link»)
What is the EU-US data protection “Umbrella Agreement”?
The EU-US data protection “Umbrella Agreement” puts in place a comprehensive high-level data protection framework for EU-US law enforcement cooperation. The Agreement covers all personal data (for example names, addresses, criminal records) exchanged between the EU and the U.S. for the purpose of prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of criminal offences, including terrorism.
The Umbrella Agreement will provide safeguards and guarantees of lawfulness for data transfers, thereby strengthening fundamental rights, facilitating EU-U.S. law enforcement cooperation and restoring trust.
In particular, EU citizens will benefit from equal treatment: they will have the same judicial redress rights as US citizens in case of privacy breaches. This point was outlined by President Juncker in his political guidelines, when he stated: “The United States must […] guarantee that all EU citizens have the right to enforce data protection rights in U.S. courts, whether or not they reside on U.S. soil. Removing such discrimination will be essential for restoring trust in transatlantic relations”
Given the current, rather lawless, situation this is a step in the right direction.
But in a wider perspective, this might be bad news: It will open the flood gates when it comes to EU transferring sensitive personal data (e.g. concerning air traffic passenger information and European bank transfers) to the US. And this will serve as an argument for the European Commission to ignore the European Parliaments call to repeal the much criticized and abused Terrorist Finance Tracking Program.
So, at the end of the day, this will be a carte blanche to transfer sensitive European personal data to the US. I’m not sure that is a good thing.
Despite the decision of the European Parliament to refer the EU-Canada PNR agreement to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in December 2014, the urge to keep increasing surveillance citizens’ movements across Europe seems to be irrepressible. Timothy Kirkhope, Rapporteur (MEP in charge) of the Fight against terrorism and serious crime: use of passenger name record (PNR) data (procedure file 2011/0023(COD) ), is again launching the EU PNR proposal in the European Parliament, after it was rejected by the Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee in 2013.
EDRi reports: French filesharers to be banned from flying?
A proposed European Directive threatens the ability of French filesharers to use airlines. The problem is a new attempt to adopt a Directive on the collection and storage of “passenger name record” (PNR) data. The European Commission’s plan is for air travellers’ data to be used for profiling individuals, to guess if they are involved in “terrorist offences and serious online crime”. A “serious crime” is defined as punishable by imprisonment for a “maximum period of at least three years”. In France, filesharing (like manslaughter and death threats) can be punished by a period of up to three years in prison, and so falls under the Directive’s definition of “serious crime”.
No, this is not an april fools joke. Read the rest of the story here… »
Thursday and Friday this week there will be another EU summit, where national leaders will adress security issues. A European Passenger Name Registration (PNR) system will to be among the top subjects on the agenda — as this also is to be a priority topic at the Global Security Summit in the US next week.
But the European Parliament will not back down. The majority position seems to be that you should not retain personal data about all air passengers in the EU — only when it comes to “a smaller target list of suspects”.
Liberal MEP Sophie in’t Veld declares that “fundamental issues of trust surrounding data sharing needed to be addressed before provisions for collecting data are centralised”.