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Coalition signs up to passenger info slurp

Ignores ICO and European data watchdogs

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The Coalition government has enthusiastically signed up to a draft European directive on exchange data on airline passengers, even though UK and European data watchdogs have already said the directive goes too far.

Minister for Immigration Damian Green told the Commons yesterday that the UK was opting in to the directive on passenger name records.

Green said: "Passenger name records help our law enforcement agencies to prevent, detect, investigate and prosecute terrorists and other serious criminals." PNR data has routinely been handed to the US and this will now happen for flights within Europe too.

But the draft directive has already been criticised by the European Data Protection Supervisor, which said the assessment had failed to show the necessity or the proportionality of a system which will collect data on all passengers.

It also asked that data collected be deleted after 30 days, that higher standards of safeguards protecting data sent to third countries were required and that there should be statistical analysis of the impact of the system – does it actually catch terrorists?

In the UK the Information Commissioner's Office also asked whether the system was proportionate and appropriate.

The Home Office sent us this when asked why it was ignoring data protection advice:

Damian Green, Minister for Immigration, said: "Passenger Name Records are a vital tool in securing our border and fighting against terrorism and serious crime – at a time when governments must exercise greater vigilance to keep their citizens safe from harm. We believe that our targeted approach to collecting this data is proportionate and necessary. This directive is a step in the right direction and Britain is leading the way in building support within Europe for an agreement that will benefit the UK."

Passenger Name Records include a wealth of other information collected by the airline, including addresses, meal choices, payment methods and seat choices. ®

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