European Union politicians are at loggerheads following a vote in the European Parliament yesterday that rejected proposals to store and share information on airline passengers.
The Parliament's civil liberties committee voted against plans to share between EU countries the PNR (passenger name register) data of airline passengers, including their name, contact details, payment data, itinerary, email and phone numbers.
PNR data is collected by airlines and a current agreement with the US uses information on passengers traveling between Europe and the US to target, identify and prevent potential terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the US. The European Commission had proposed a similar scheme for passengers traveling within the EU.
Dutch Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) Sophie In't Veld and Jan Philipp Albrecht both welcomed the vote, saying that politicians had put the basic rights of citizens and the rule of law first.
But British MEP Timothy Kirkhope called the vote "irresponsible" and said terrorists, serious criminals and people traffickers could be much harder to track. He accused MEPs of putting "ideological dogma before a practical and sensible measure that would have seriously assisted our fight against crime and terror".
However; Albrecht said in a statement that the system would have led to "mandatory retention and analysis of passengers' private data, flying in the face of the constitutional presumption of innocence".
Sixteen EU countries currently have systems in place to collect PNR, but do not share it across borders. The proposals will now go to a vote of the full parliament.