Oct 272011
 October 27, 2011  Posted by  Non-U.S., Surveillance

A new agreement on the transfer of EU air passengers’ personal data to the Australian Customs Service was approved by the EP on Thursday. The data will be used to prevent terrorist offences and serious transnational crime. It will be retained by the Australian authorities for a maximum of 5 and a half years. The agreement will be in force for 7 years.

Passenger Name Record (PNR) data collected by air carriers includes, inter alia, names, addresses, passport numbers and credit card details. Under Australian law, air companies are obliged to send it to the Australian Customs Service prior to passenger departure. The new agreement aims to bring data transfers into line with EU data protection rules.

“We give a positive assessment on a number of points, in particular the limitation of the purpose definition. It has been considerably tightened and it includes only the fight against terrorism and serious transnational crime. I think this is a very important achievement”, said rapporteur Sophia in´t Veld (ALDE, NL) in a debate preceding the vote. “However, there are also a couple of remaining concerns, the most fundamental point being that the necessity and the proportionality of the mass collection and storage of data has been demonstrated only partially and not sufficiently”, she noted.

The agreement was approved with 463 votes in favour, 96 against and 11 abstentions. Before approving the deal, MEPs rejected by a show of hands a resolution tabled by the GUE/NGL group seeking a European Court of Justice opinion on the agreement’s compatibility with the treaties.

Read more of this press release from the European Parliament.

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