Gov't battles EU to use passenger data

Vital in fighting illegal immigration, claims UK

Vital in fighting illegal immigration, claims UK

The government is battling European Union (EU) proposals to restrict the way it uses air passenger data to monitor immigration.

The Home Office claims that the names and travel plans it collects are crucial to control cross-border movements. Retail & Leisure

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Now the EU plans to make all European states share this passenger name record (PNR) information in a move that could limit its use to terrorism and organised crime.

The government attacked the EU draft proposal on PNR saying there was a "real risk" it "would degrade e-Borders by prohibiting the use of PNR data for combating immigration offences."

It made the warning in its response to the House of Lords EU committee report on the Passenger Name Record Framework Decision.

PNR data includes passenger name, travel agent or airline contact, ticket number, itinerary of at least one segment of the journey, name of person making the booking and can include age, fare details, form of payment, home address, passenger phone number and special meal requirements.

The Home Office says that e-Borders information on 50 million passengers movements has already led to 25,000 alerts and 2,100 arrests for offences ranging from murder and possession of firearms to drug-smuggling.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said in a statement: "The collection of passenger name records is a vital tool in Britain's fight against organised crime, terrorism and immigration offenders."

The House of Lords report argued there must be limits and clear definitions of what PNR information is used for, arguing against the use of blanket expressions used by the UK such as "serious" crime.