Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Air passengers' lunch details to be stored in terrorism plan


The details of millions of British airline passengers will be stored for up to five years under EU plans to tackle terrorism.

Information including names, addresses, credit card details and travel partners will be collated.
The database will store what a passenger ate, where they sat and whether they were flying on to another destination.
The same data could be handed over to any other EU country in which the plane lands. That would include British tourists on package tours to Spain or travellers going to parts of Eastern Europe.
The proposal will be enforced despite the Tories coming to power on a promise to row back the surveillance state.
The new policy, once approved, means immigration and police authorities will be handed a variety of additional data including a passenger’s phone number and how they paid for their ticket, such as credit card details and billing addresses.
The information can also be shared with other countries if it helps solve or prevent a crime or terrorist attack.

But critics attacked the Government for signing up to a diktat that could see details of Britons handed around Europe without proper parliamentary scrutiny.

Damian Green, the immigration minister, told the Commons yesterday that Britain would opt in to the EU directive on passenger name records. Bill Cash, the Tory chairman of the Commons European scrutiny committee, said: “There is certain concern about opting in on the hoof because these important negotiations are still going on. We will keep them closely under scrutiny.”

Britain currently collects the data on a passenger’s passport, such as name, date of birth, country of birth and gender.

Under the new EU wide power, airlines will be forced to hand over all the other information they collect — at least 19 extra pieces of data.

It will be stored for up to five years. Details will be made anonymous after 30 days but approved individuals can read the information for crime or security purposes. The draft directive initially applied to flights in and out of Europe.

Britain wants the power to apply to flights within Europe as well and has proposed an amendment as part of its deal to opt in.

Mr Green said: “Opting in to this directive is good for our safety, good for our security and good for our citizens.”

Stephen Booth, research director of Open Europe, said: 'Despite their tough rhetoric in opposition, Conservative ministers have handed over crime and justice powers to Brussels at an alarming rate.”
Labour’s Emma Reynolds said the Government was right to opt in at the start of negotiations so that it could be at the “forefront” of the discussions.



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