PNR 'reduces the need for profiling'

Written by Julie Levy-Abegnoli on 26 February 2015 in News
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Timothy Kirkhope has presented his revised PNR proposal to his fellow MEPs.

Timothy Kirkhope, rapporteur on the use of passenger name record (PNR) data for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime, has presented his work to parliament's civil liberties, justice and home affairs (LIBE) committee.

The commission submitted a proposal on the topic in 2011, but the ECR deputy's original report was rejected by the LIBE committee in 2013.

Kirkhope explained that having a passenger name record system in place "reduces the need for profiling by intelligence agencies - they would be looking for patterns of behaviour rather than profiles". This could mean, for example, "an individual travelling to South Asia alone and repeatedly returning sitting next to a child".

The British MEP has proposed the collection of 19 types of information, such as "travel dates, itinerary, contact details, seat numbers and baggage information". The length of time for which this information would be stored would depend on its nature, with "the most sensitive data [being] kept for 30 days". 

"The alternative is straightforward and stares us in the face - member states will go it alone, which of course would create considerable confusion and costs, and the beneficiaries from such activity can only be those that want to do us harm" - Timothy Kirkhope

Kirkhope added that "each member state would have to appoint a data protection supervisory officer" and that PNR "must also apply to intra-EU flights".

The parliamentarian warned that "the alternative is straightforward and stares us in the face - member states will go it alone, which of course would create considerable confusion and costs, and the beneficiaries from such activity can only be those that want to do us harm".

A number of member states, such as the UK, already have their own PNR system in place.

The possible EU-wide implementation of such measures has been the source of conflict in the LIBE committee, with left wing groups strongly voicing their objection. Greens/EFA group member Jan Albrecht has said that PNR is "completely illegal".

He was referring to a European court of justice ruling that was announced in July, forbidding the blanket retention of personal data.

S&D group vice-president Jörg Leichtfried stressed that "parliament will not back any EUPNR agreement without the adoption of an EU data protection directive - the two files need to go together". 

Kirkhope said that LIBE committees members now have until 25 March to submit their amendments on his report, and hopes that a vote "will be sometime in the reasonably near future".

Last month, he told this magazine that ideally, parliament would finalise its PNR proposal before the summer.

 

About the author

Julie Levy-Abegnoli is a journalist and editorial assistant for the Parliament Magazine

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