US activist issues final PNR warning

A human rights activist has highlighted the consequences an expected agreement between the European Union (EU) and the USA will have on travellers’ personal rights.

US campaigner Edward Hasbrouck said speaking to the Kurier that the so-called Passenger Name Record (PNR) regulation – on which the EU and the United States are set to agree upon, according to observers – was a breach of European data protection laws. Hasbrouck claimed the USA were aware of this and therefore trying to justify and legalise their disputed actions by getting PNR underway.

Hasbrouck said today (Tues) he asked US domestic and travel security authorities for the permission to check what kind of information they garnered about him in 2007. He said officials got back to him three years later. Hasbrouck found that the collected data featured information on journeys he undertook in Europe such as bookings of trains and hotels. “The US know who shares your bed (when you are travelling),” he warned.

Various European data protection organisations have been fighting the expected accord between the European Parliament (EP) and the US government on PNR for years. A draft bill on an agreement has already been established by European lawmakers. EP delegates are tipped to give the green light to PNR – which the USA consider as vital in their fight against global terror – in the coming weeks.

One of the draft bill’s most controversial aspects is the plan to allow the United States to keep information about flight passengers for 15 years whereas a similar agreement with Australia features a maximum storage time of only five and a half years.