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    EU MP Says Data Protection Must Accompany Surveillance on Air Travelers

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    The collection of air passenger data is necessary to combat crime, such as drug trafficking and dealing, and terrorist movements, a member of the European Parliament believes.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik), Anastasia Levchenko — If the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) proposal, allowing mass collection of data on people flying into or out of the European Union, is adopted, data protection safeguards must be introduced, a member of the European Parliament told Sputnik on Thursday.

    Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee of the parliament is currently reviewing the proposal, which has already faced opposition from groups defending civil liberty and privacy.

    "This [data protection safeguards] is of utmost relevance, we do not want to treat innocent travelers like potential terrorists. The way in which personal data, once collected, are treated – and disposed of – afterwards will be a distinguishing feature of the EU PNR system," Frank Engel, member of LIBE committee from the Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats), told Sputnik.

    Engel explained that the collection of air passenger data is necessary for Europe for two reasons: to combat crime, such as drug transport and dealing, and terrorist movements, as well as to bring about consistency in the PNR field in Europe.

    "More and more member states of the EU are designing and implementing their own PNR systems, without any sort of EU co-ordination, and airlines do the same in practice. The result is chaos in the PNR field… It is time to devise such a European system," Engel explained.

    Due to the sensitive balance between security-based data collection and citizen privacy, there has been no unity of opinions on the issue even among LIBE members.

    "The EPP [European People's Party] and ECR [European Conservatives and Reformists] are in favour, other groups [are] more skeptical, but this proposal needs broad support in the end – it will have to be endorsed by S&D [Socialists and Democrats] and Liberals too," Engel said.

    Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship, was ordered to redraft PNR legislation at the end of January, after France saw a wave of terrorist attacks between January 7 and January 9 that took the lives of 17 people. Since 2013, storage of data on air travelers under the PNR has been blocked by the parliament.

    Related:

    EU Proposal on Collection of Passengers’ Data Revived Amid Terrorist Threat
    Tags:
    drugs, counterterrorism, security, Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE), European Parliament, European People's Party, Frank Engel
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