The European Parliament's civil liberties committee voted today (24 April) to reject a proposed EU system of storing the private data of airline passengers along the lines of an equivalent US scheme.
Air carriers collect passenger name records, or PNR, data during reservation and check-in procedures for flights entering or leaving the EU, including the passenger’s name, address, phone number and credit card details.
In February 2011, the Commission proposed obliging air carriers to provide EU countries with the personal data of passengers. This would be used to prevent, detect, investigate and prosecute serious crimes or terrorist offences.
The draft rule was rejected in Parliament’s civil liberties committee by a vote of 30-25. The Greens and the European United Left/Nordic Green Alliance voted the proposal down, with the support of most committee members from the Socialists and Democrats and Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
The European People’s Party and the European Conservatives and Reformists groups supported the proposal.
The Greens welcomed the vote, with home affairs and civil liberties spokesperson Jan Philipp Albrecht, saying: “MEPs have today voted to put the basic rights of citizens and the rule of law first by rejecting the proposed EU PNR system. This far-reaching system would have led to the mandatory retention and analysis of passengers' private data, flying in the face of EU principles on privacy and data protection.”
Opponents of the measure called on the EU executive to re-think its proposals.
Meanwhile, rapporteur Timothy Kirkhope (ECR, Britain) and other MEPs expressed concern about the vote’s possible impact on EU counterterrorism policy, and asked that the matter be referred to the full Parliamentary chamber for a further vote.
The chairman of the civil liberties committee, Juan Fernando López Aguilar (Socialists and Democrats, Spain) called for the matter be put to Parliament’s conference of presidents in order to decide how to proceed.