23:47 GMT01 April 2020
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    New rules agreeing the mass collection of the personal details of air travelers in Europe – passed by the European Parliament – could be illegal under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), according to lawmakers.

    A group of members of the European Parliament have slammed draft EU rules on the mass collection of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data of every person flying to or from the EU, and its use by member states and the pan-EU police organization Europol to fight terrorism and serious transnational crime, approved by the Civil Liberties Committee Wednesday.

    PNR data is information provided by passengers and collected by air carriers during reservation and check-in procedures. It includes 19 different types of information, including travel dates, travel itinerary, ticket information, contact details, baggage information and payment information.

    Violation of Fundamental Rights

    However, many MEPs believe the mass collection of such data flies in the face of last year's European Court of Human Rights ruling that it was disproportionate for states to collect and retain vast quantities of data from all citizens. It overturned the EU data retention directive as a result.

    "The proposals adopted today clearly violate fundamental rights and will therefore once again be submitted to the judges in Luxembourg," said German Green Jan Philipp Albrecht.

    "If these proposal do not infringe constitutional or treaty provisions, then civil rights in the EU is meaningless."

    Dutch Liberal Sophie in 't Veld, said the issue would have to be taken back to the human rights court again. "This vote leaves it — once again — to the courts to ensure the protection of fundamental rights and the rule of law," she said.

    However, Civil Liberties Committee rapporteur Timothy Kirkhope said there would be special rules governing the use of the data to protect citizens' rights. This data must only be used to prevent, detect, investigate and prosecute these crimes, said MEPs, inserting safeguards to ensure ‘the lawfulness of any storage, analysis, transfer and use of PNR data'.

    "Without this EU system in place a number of EU governments will go it alone and create their own systems. That would leave gaps in the net and create a patchwork approach to data protection. With one EU-wide system, we can close the net and ensure high standards of data protection and proportionality are applied right across Europe. The emerging threat posed by so-called 'foreign fighters' has made this system even more essential", Kirkhope said.

    Related:

    Passenger Name Record: Security vs Civil Liberties
    Terror Prevention or Big Brother? MEPs Divided Over Air Travel Data Plans
    EU Proposal on Collection of Passengers’ Data Revived Amid Terrorist Threat
    Tags:
    data retention, transport, human rights, travel, privacy, EU Passenger Name Record (PNR), Passenger Name Records (PNR), European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), European Union, World, Europe
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