EU Watchdog Calls Out Flight Screening Plans

     (CN) – The European Union’s data watchdog said Friday that no threat justifies plans to begin collecting the personal data of all passengers on flights to, from and within the EU.
     Lawmakers in the EU have been pushing the innocuous-sounding “Passenger Name Records” bill as a way to combat terrorism and serious crime. The proposed bill would cover all flights to and from the EU and would likely include domestic and intra-union flights as well.
     But the independent European Data Protection Supervisor has called the measure intrusive, and said Friday that lawmakers haven’t yet justified why the “massive, nontargeted and indiscriminate collection” of passengers is urgently necessary – a requirement of the EU constitution.
     “Europe is facing serious terrorist threats and we fully recognise the need for appropriate action,” said European Data Protection Supervisor Giovanni Buttarelli. “However, according to the available information no elements reasonably substantiate the need for the default collection of massive amounts of the personal information of millions of travellers. Necessity and proportionality are essential prerequisites for the legitimacy of any intrusive measure.
     “We encourage the legislators, in assessing the necessity of such a measure, to further explore the effectiveness of new investigative approaches as well as of more selective and less intrusive surveillance measures based on targeted categories of flights, passengers or countries.”
     Buttarelli’s office urged EU lawmakers to consider whether “targeting resources and efforts on known suspects would be more effective than profiling all travellers.”
     The data watchdog estimated that some 300 million “nonsuspect” passengers would have their personal data collected under the bill.

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