Privacy Advisor

Global Privacy Dispatches- EU- Passenger Name Records

February 1, 2008

By Shannon Ballard, CIPP/G, and Lauren Saadat, CIPP/G

Parliament Issues Opinion on PNR

Passenger Name Records (PNR) have proven to be a critical tool to help the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) identify lethal enemies — including those previously unknown — from among the numerous travelers who arrive from overseas. In its agreement from June of 2007, DHS sought to ensure its continued access to this useful information while at the same time safeguarding the privacy of the traveling public. Recently, the EU Parliament (EUP) Legal Services has issued a legal opinion on the 2007 Agreement, at the request of the President of the EUP Commission on Civil Liberties, Justice and Internal Affairs (LIBE). The Opinion concludes that the U.S. government system is "adequate" in several areas: proportionality, data retention, access/redress and the type/number of information fields collected. The Opinion finds the proportionality of the transfer of data to third countries "in the absence of clear justifications" to be "problematic" and it questions the retroactive application of the 2007 Agreement to PNR. Also of note, the Opinion finds that the 2007 PNR Agreement is consistent with the EU—U.S. Agreements on Mutual Legal Assistance, Extradition, Europol and Eurojust. Overall, the Opinion provides unique insight into the EU's adequacy standard in law enforcement cooperation. The opinion can be found at: www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2004_2009/organes/libe/libe_20071120_1500.htm.


Shannon Ballard and Lauren Saadat are Associate Directors of International Privacy Policy at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. They can be reached at shannon.ballard@dhs.gov and lauren.saadat@dhs.gov.