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The EU PNR is delayed by MEPs, but the Russian PNR arrives

19 June, 2013

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: MEPs verzögern EU-PNR, aber EU-Russland PNR wird kommen

On 10 June 2013, the MEPs were supposed to vote on the recommendation of EP LIBE Committee (Civil liberties committee) to reject an EU passenger data retention system (Passenger Name Records or PNR), proposed by the EU Commission. Yet, a majority of MEPs decided to refer it back to LIBE, following a request by British MEP Tim Kirkhope. He cited "technical reasons" for the request and the ECR group said that the file was originally rejected in the same LIBE Committee because of a “random” or “accidental” majority.

Yet, some of the members accuse political interests. "Referring the anticipated decision on the draft EU PNR system back to the civil liberties committee is a cynical act of chicanery. The committee voted to recommend the rejection of the PNR system, due to concerns about its disproportionate and far-reaching nature, and this recommendation should have been put to the vote this week. The EP's conservative draftsperson/rapporteur is trying to pull a fast one simply because the committee's recommendation did not suit his agenda. The concerns with the proposed system have not in any way diminished. If anything, with the latest revelations about US infringement of the privacy rights of European citizens, we should be even more cautious about establishing more data grabbing and profiling systems. Against this background, it is to be hoped that the committee delivers the same negative verdict on the EU PNR system and that the democratic process is allowed to run its course,” stated Jan Philipp Albrecht (Greens/EFA).

Meanwhile, starting with 1 July 2013, the EU airlines, will be forced to hand over passengers' personal data, such as credit card details, to Russian security services, under a new decree passed by Russia in July 2012, without EU knowledge, to establish a PNR and then request passenger data from airlines companies for all flights passing through Russia.

Kirill Ivanov, a spokesman for Russia's EU ambassador, told EUobserver that Moscow had published the full text of its new PNR law in September 2012 even if it did not send a special notice to Brussels. "These measures can hardly be qualified as unexpected … the EU had sufficient time to prepare for this document entering into force," said the spokesman.

Dutch Liberal Sophie in 't Veld, considered that the European Commission should have been aware of the issue and that the commissioner in charge of the dossier, Sweden's Cecilia Malmstrom had had a "passive … bureaucratic … mysterious" approach on the matter. She also drew attention over the fact that, by signing EU-US PNR, the EU position in the negotiation with Russia and other countries has been weakened, as the EU can’t deny to others what has accepted to give to the Americans. Several other countries are also planning to impose PNR regimes on EU passengers, such as Canada, India, Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates, "It's only a matter of time before China starts collecting data as well," she said. The serious issue is that many of these countries, including Russia, have a track record of potential data abuses infringing human rights.

EU PNR vote prevented by chicanery, as data protection concerns abound (10.06.2013)

European Parliament delays vote on sharing passenger data with US authorities (11.06.2013)

Russia blames EU for airline data fiasco (11.06.2013)

EDRi-gram: Call for Action: Vote on the retention of air passenger data (PNR) (5.06.2013)



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