The aftermath of the Paris attacks has triggered the possible onset of a European Commission strategy to collect, store and share passenger data flying through, and in and out of Europe, as a move to confront and check acts of terror.

However, talks of deployment of such a plan are not new.

A Passenger Name Record (PNR) system which allowed for sharing of passenger flight data among EU nations, was put forth by the EC and had been subsequently stalled by lawmakers on the argument that it violates basic privacy by “instituting mass tracking and surveillance,” according to a Reuters report.

According to the plan proposed by the Commission the collected data will be stored for five years for use in terrorism cases if any and for four years for transnational crimes. It is being proposed that the held period before anonymization be reduced to seven days instead of 30.

Civil Liberty campaigners have been arguing against the scope of the blanket strategy.

Explains Jan Philipp Albrecht, the vice-chairman of the European parliament’s civil liberties committee : “The commission plans are an affront to the critics of the European parliament and the European court of justice who have said that data retention without any link to a certain risk or suspicion isn’t proportionate.”

“It is an open breach of fundamental rights to blanketly retain all passenger data. Instead of a full take of PNR data, we need a focus on suspects and risk flights. The Paris attacks have shown that mass retention was not effective in fighting jihadis.” he added.

The EC also maintains that a the tight leash will be regulated with regards to the accessibility of this data and the spectrum of usage – namely “terrorism and serious transnational crime”.

If adopted, the plan could see adoption by February 10, however full scale implementation would not occur earlier than the the second half of this year.

France already has such a system in place and the Guardian reports that 14 out of the 28 EU member states are in the process of setting up their record system covering flights in and out of their own country.

Read The Guardian’s full coverage here.

(Image credit: Nick Harris, via Flickr)


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