A new proposal put to Brussels this week has sparked controversy once again with advocates of privacy in the EU. Following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris and the Brussels Jewish Museum shootings last year, the European security services have stepped up measures to detect travellers joining or returning from war in Syria and Iraq and feel that sharing airline passenger data, via Passenger Name Records (PNR) or a system similar to that in place between Europe and the U.S. in the form of Advance Passenger Information (API) would be a step closer to helping to achieve their goal.
Access to personal information across the EU by the intelligence services remains in fierce debate, particularly in countries such as Germany, who were outraged over the accusations of mass surveillance by U.S. intelligence agencies after the attacks of 9/11.
Jan Albreicht, German member of the European Parliament said, “We need to deliver whatever is necessary and proportionate to get a higher level of security. But what you are proposing now, the proposal of blanket mass surveillance of citizens, is exactly the opposite of that. It’s not delivering that.”
Anti-terror measures have become a security priority for the EU and passenger data sharing is at the top of the list in terms of monitoring the movements of suspected high-risk travellers.
Timothy Kirkhope, British member of the European Parliament said, “We need now to make sure we have enough information to look at patterns of behaviour. That is the basis on which we can find criminals and find terrorists in order to protect our citizens. Stop things happening such as the atrocities in Paris recently.”