European Anti-terror plan involves blanket collection of passengers’ data

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European Anti-terror plan involves blanket collection of passengers’ data

New anti-terror plans will require every airline passenger flying in and out of Europe to have personal data including their bank card details stored on a police database.

The new  move by the European Commission would mean all information collected during check-in would be made available to the security services.

The Guardian reports: A new European commission counter-terror plan will require the blanket collection and storage for up to five years of personal data records of all passengers flying in and out of Europe, the Guardian can reveal.

Civil liberty campaigners say the revised European passenger name record plan – in the aftermath of the Paris attacks – breaches a recent European court of justice ruling that blanket collection of personal data without detailed safeguards is a severe incursion on personal privacy.

The European commission plan to be published on Wednesday would require 42 separate pieces of information on every passenger flying in and out of Europe, including their bank card details, home address and meal preferences such as halal, to be stored on a central database for up to five years for access by the police and security services.
The proposal, seen by the Guardian, describes itself as a “workable compromise” between European interior ministers, who want to see its swift adoption for all flights within Europe as well as flights in and out of Europe, and the European parliament’s civil liberties committee, which blocked the plan nearly two years ago.

European interior ministers, including the home secretary, Theresa May, who has been pushing the issue most strongly, agreed in Paris on the day of the “Je Suis Charlie” unity march that their main counter-terrorism priority in tracking foreign fighters was to overturn the European parliament’s opposition to the plan.

They issued a joint statement saying there was a “crucial and urgent need to move toward an European passenger name record system” and immediate progress will be on the agenda when EU interior ministers meet in Riga on Thursday.

The revised plan includes stronger data protection rules and safeguards, but civil liberty campaigners say that its blanket approach to the retention and storage of the personal details of millions of passengers is still unacceptable.

Jan Philipp Albrecht, vice-chairman of the European parliament’s civil liberties committee, said: “The commission plans are an affront to the critics of the European parliament and the European court of justice who have said that data retention without any link to a certain risk or suspicion isn’t proportionate.

“It is an open breach of fundamental rights to blanketly retain all passenger data,” he added.

Niamh Harris
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