Wednesday 13 June 2007, by House of Lords Select Committee on European Union
The House of Lords European Union Committee have today set out their criteria for a new EU/US Passenger Name Record (PNR) Agreement. They argue that the collection of data should not go beyond that needed in the fight against terrorism.
The Committee fully accept the potential value of PNR data in the fight against terrorism. But the data must be collected accurately, analysed correctly, and used only for counter-terrorism and related crimes.
The current PNR agreement with the US does not achieve this. Data can be used for many crimes other than counter-terrorism – even for protection against infectious diseases. Data are widely available, and distributed without appropriate safeguards. The US avoids its current undertakings about PNR; this cannot be allowed to continue.
The Committee state that the new PNR agreement being negotiated with the US must include clear and unambiguous undertakings about the collection, use and retention of data. The US must not be allowed to amend the undertakings unilaterally.
The Committee believe that the new agreement must be no more invasive of individual liberty than is strictly necessary for counter-terrorism. This is vital if public confidence in the system is to be maintained.
Other recommendations the Committee make include:
Airlines must inform passengers about what happens to their personal information: who receives it, and under what conditions.
The agreement must include a full list of the data allowed to be collected. This must not include open-ended data elements like ‘general remarks’.
Data must not be passed to bodies not dealing with counter-terrorism unless this is essential, and only if the same safeguards are maintained.
There must be annual reviews of the working of the agreement.
Commenting Lord Wright of Richmond, Chairman of the Lords EU Sub-Committee on Home Affairs, said:
«We accept that the sharing of PNR data can be valuable in protecting the public from the very real threat of international terrorism.
«However it is crucial that any new agreement does not prejudice the rights of law-abiding travellers. Their personal data must be used only for fighting terrorism and other equally serious crimes. It must be kept safely and not used for other purposes.
«The PNR agreement between the EU and Canada strikes the right balance between safety, security and privacy. The agreement being negotiated with the US must do the same.»
Notes to Editors
1. The report is published by The Stationery Office, The EU/US Passenger Name Record (PNR) Agreement, House of Lords European Union Committee, 21st Report of 2006/07, HL Paper 108.
2. The full report will be available shortly after publication at: http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/lords_s_comm_f.cfm
3. The members of the Committee who conducted the inquiry are:
Lord Wright of Richmond
Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury
Earl of Caithness
Lord Foulkes of Cumnock
Earl of Listowel
Download the Report at PDF format