Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/03/02/uk_eu_deal_passenger_data/

UK will share passenger data with US in Euro deal

Home Office: 'Sensitive stuff will be filtered'

By Guardian Government Computing

Posted in Government, 2nd March 2012 08:32 GMT

The UK has opted in to the EU passenger name record (PNR) agreement with the United States, Home Office minister Damien Green has confirmed.

"The UK, in common with many other EU member states and third countries, places considerable value on the collection and analysis of PNR data (that data collected by carriers in the exercise of their business) for the purpose of preventing terrorism and serious crime," Green said in a written ministerial statement.

PNR data is mainly used as a criminal intelligence tool to identify potential passenger risks and to provide law enforcement authorities with data prior to the arrival or departure of a flight.

"We fully recognise the importance of working with partners outside the EU given that the threats we face are global in nature and, in common with other EU member states, we view the US as a key partner," the minister added.

Outlining the plans, Green said the agreement:

The agreement, which replaces one applied provisionally from July 2007, also stipulates that sensitive personal data must be filtered out and may only be accessed in "exceptional circumstances" where the life of an individual may by imperilled or seriously impaired. The agreement would only permit onward data transmission to a third country on a case-by-case basis, Green said.

The transfer of PNR data has historically caused concern around civil liberties and privacy due to the collection and storage of individuals' personal data, which the minister sought to address.

"We are firmly committed to consistency in our approach to civil liberties and will seek to translate our domestic agenda to the EU level. This includes: purpose limitation; rigorous evidence based arguments; the principles of necessity and proportionality; stringent data protection safeguards, especially when handling sensitive personal data; independent data protection oversight; and, of course, full compliance with EU law and the EU treaties."

In November 2011 the government revealed it intentions to reach an arrangement with the US and said that discussions regarding a EU-US agreement on PNR had reached an advanced stage and a "political understanding had been reached".

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

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