Kirkhope, a senior UK Tory MEP, presented the report to the civil liberties and home affairs committee in the European Parliament. The revised report comes after the committee rejected an original proposal in 2013. The full parliament asked MEPs to continue working to find an agreement, which was then given fresh impetus by the threat of so-called ‘foreign fighters’ returning to Europe from Syria and Iraq.
A PNR system would permit basic information from the time of booking to be stored by authorities. Using the data, highly-trained authorities are able to build up patterns of behaviour that point towards terrorist or criminal behaviour such as trafficking.
The use of PNR data reduces profiling by basing law enforcement decisions on patterns of behaviour, rather than a traveller’s profile.
Kirkhope said the revised report has sought to take on board concerns expressed by some MEPs regarding the original proposals. Amongst the changes he proposes are:
– narrowing the scope of the proposal to terrorism and transnational crime only, and narrowing the list of offences that are defined as serious transnational crime;
– ensuring that sensitive data is deleted after 30 days, with other data masked after thirty days;
– Access to the PNR data will continue to be allowed for five years for terrorism, but reduced to four years for serious crime (taking on board the European Court’s ruling on Data Retention which argues that proportionality must be maintained);
– Each EU Member State should appoint a data protection supervisory officer.
Kirkhope said, “European leaders have repeatedly made it clear that an EU PNR system is an essential tool for Europe’s security. The revised report has sought to take on concerns expressed to me and present a way forward.
“There are bound to be members in the committee who are still not satisfied with this report and probably never will be.”
He added,”My aim in the coming few months is to work with pragmatic political forces who want to find an agreement that carefully balances the need for security and the need to ensure the limited data collected is handled correctly.
“Without a European PNR system, we will begin to see national governments going it alone. The result would be a patchwork of PNR systems with holes in the net, which criminals will exploit, and lower standards of data protection.
“We will work with haste, but we also plan to get this right so that we have a well-balanced system that protects liberties and lives.”
By Martin Banks