The European Union and United States have announced a new
effort to share passenger name records (PNRs) for purposes of providing more information
about terrorist threats. The European Union will ensure that air carriers
operating passenger flights in foreign air transportation to or from the United
States of America will make available PNR data contained in their reservation
systems as required by DHS.
The EU agreed to the data sharing based on assurances from
the Department of Homeland Security that the PNR data would be acceptably
protected. The sole use of passenger data, according to the DHS, is as follows:
DHS uses EU PNR strictly for the purpose of preventing and combating:
(1) terrorism and related crimes; (2) other serious crimes, including organized
crime, that are transnational in nature; and (3) flight from warrants or
custody for crimes described above. PNR may be used where necessary for the
protection of the vital interests of the data subject or other persons, or in
any criminal judicial proceedings, or as otherwise required by law. DHS will advise
the EU regarding the passage of any U.S. legislation which materially affects
the statements made in this letter.
Bottom Line: Assuming that the data will be protected
according to DHS assurances this agreement appears to be a win-win situation. Both
political organizations will see greater opportunity to investigate potential
terrorist attacks and the marriage of data between the EU and US will assist inevitable
future efforts to swap data and protect personal information.