Towards a EU system for collecting passenger name records
At the meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 26/27 April 2012, ministers established a general approach on a draft directive relating to the use of flight passenger record data in the fight against terrorist offences and serious crime. This clears the way for negotiations with the European Parliament.
The aim of the draft directive is to set up an EU system for the collection and use of passenger name record (PNR) data, covering all flights into or out of the EU. This system will oblige member states to use a single model and to ensure smooth cooperation between the relevant authorities. The use of PNR data - which are already being collected by air carriers - will, however, only be allowed for the purposes of preventing, detecting, investigating and prosecuting terrorist offences and serious crime.
In addition to this limitation, the draft directive provides for a strong data protection regime with passengers having the right to access data concerning them and the possibility to request that such data be rectified and/or erased. Passengers will also be able to seek administrative and legal redress. Morten Bødskov, the Danish minister presiding over the meeting, described the result as a "strong framework with a high and uniform level of data protection".
PNR data are provided on a voluntary basis by passengers to air carriers and may include information relating to names, the date and the itinerary of the flight, the means of payment used, seat numbers and luggage, among other things. According to the agreement reached today, the use of PNR data will be permitted for a time span of five years. After an initial period of two years, however, the data will be depersonalized, i.e. information making it possible to directly identify a passenger will be masked out.
Member states may also, but are not obliged to, collect PNR for targeted flights within the EU.
Press release (pdf) - covers the whole meeting
Video coverage of the Council meeting
Press conference (video)
Public deliberation (video)