Bruxelles, July 15, 2015
Today the EP LIBE committee voted through the infamous EU PNR proposal, with an unholy alliance of EPP, ECR and some Liberals and Social-democrats, who were heavily lobbied by their governments to vote in favour of yet another mass data collection measure in the so-called fight against terrorism. The final vote was 32 in favour, 27 against and 4 abstentions.
Our Group has opposed this measure from its very inception, as it has never been showed that such far-reaching bulk data collection measures are indeed necessary and proportionate to the stated objectives, while they are a clear infringement on the fundamental rights to privacy and data protection of all citizens. We also demanded to stop the negotiations of this file until we hear back from the European Court of Justice on the compatibility of the EU-Canada PNR agreement with the fundamental rights charter.
Even after the initial rejection of this proposal in 2013 by the EP Civil Liberties Committee and in light of the European Court of Justice judgment annulling the infamous data retention Directive, arguing that untargeted mass collection of personal data is a violation of fundamental rights, the Commission never withdrew its proposal. After the horrible Charlie Hebdo attacks in January 2015, the right-wing has shamelessly used these attacks as a false justification for the necessity of this EU PNR model, even though it was clear that the perpetrators were known to various Member States but the information was not properly exchanged. Lack of cooperation between intelligence agencies was the problem here, not lack of data.
The currently adopted report makes it obligatory for Member States to collect the personal flight data (including credit card info, address, email, telephone number, food preferences etc) of all passengers flying into, our of or through EU territory. This is an outright attack on the right to personal data protection and the presumption of innocence, as it allows collecting the personal data of any passenger, without the requirement that they are officially suspect in any specific ongoing investigation on terrorist activity or serious transnational crime. Furthermore, the PNR data will be stored for a period of 5 years, and can be easily obtained by third countries with lower data protection standards than the EU or the EU agency Europol which can then share it with other ‘partners’, which means personal data of EU citizens risks at being scattered all around the globe with little or no protection or judicial remedies.
Today’s vote has once again shown that the right-wing and centre parties do not care about citizen’s rights, nor about the fundamental legal safeguards aiming at protecting these rights but blindly follow those who thrive on popular fear-driven rhetoric.
Our Group will continue to oppose this measure during trilogues, and hope we can still reject this in Plenary.
United European Left Group (GUE/NGL)
Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs