EU just two votes away from scooping up air passenger data

While the two votes might be formalities, it will be two more years before the Passenger Name Record Directive takes effect

A system for tracking European air passengers is just two votes -- and two years -- away from implementation, after national governments agreed Friday to a text proposed by the European Parliament.

But even if the text is ratified promptly, EU rules mean it won't take effect for another two years.

There's no plan to create a single, central database about passengers flying into and out of the European Union. Rather, each member state will set up its own passenger information unit to gather data from airlines using its airports. Airlines will have to hand over data about those on flights entering or leaving the EU, and countries may choose to collect data on intra-EU flights too.

The goal of the legislation, the Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive, is to detect, prevent and investigate terrorist offenses and serious crime. EU legislators have become more impatient to reach a deal following the recent attacks in Paris, although none of those behind the attacks flew to the city.

The compromise reached Friday between national ministers and the parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) sets out the ways in which the data can be used, such as for determining the risk presented by passengers before their arrival, and the length of time it can be stored.

Records of passengers' names, travel dates, itineraries, ticket information, contact details, booking agents, means of payment, seat numbers and baggage information will be stored for six months, after which the names of the passenger and any others travelling on the same reservation will be masked out, with the remaining data stored for another four-and-a-half years.

Police already use such information in their investigations, but procedures differ from country to country. Legislators want to harmonize those rules across Europe.

LIBE committee member and author of the compromise text, Timothy Kirkhope, said he preferred to see a single system that included privacy protection, rather than the existing patchwork of rules. "The choice is not between an EU PNR system and no EU PNR system, it is between an EU PNR system and 28 national PNR systems that will have vastly differing, or absent, standards for protecting passenger data," he said Friday.

The committee will vote to formally accept the compromise text he proposed on Dec. 10, and then submit it to Parliament for a final vote early next year.

But the rules won't take effect overnight: EU directives are not laws in themselves, but instructions to the national government to pass their own laws having the same effect. They have two years to do so.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Peter Sayer

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?