Her Majesty’s Government seems to have finally got its way on extending exchanges of air passenger data to all intra-EU flights. It’s being reported by Austrian radio (here’s the google translation) that the EU Council of Ministers approved the plans in a hushed-up meeting in April and that the implementation goes against their own legal advice!
You won’t be surprised to learn that there are plans to further extend the PNR system to rail and sea travel as well (an imposition supported by the Association of European Airlines on fair competition grounds). Hmmm – makes you wonder about road-charging and toll booths; how simple it would be for the European Citizen to produce his travel warrant at the same time as he is paying his £10 charge.
The data won’t be used only to identify terrorists – only a numbnuts would have faith in that government assertion – it will be used as an adjunct to the European Arrest Warrant. The authorities just won’t be able to resist the function creep.
Time after time we see the UK government leading the way in Europe, and not in a way we would wish:
The UK government’s rationale, while claiming to “roll back” the authoritarian state at home, is that:
“Responsible governments must provide security for their citizens and protect their privacy. We do not agree with those who say that we have to choose between being safe and being free. This is a false choice – both are possible.”
As noted below the UK has the most comprehensive PNR system covering flights, sea and rail for international, intra-EU and domestic travel which it seeks to encourage across the EU. The “freedom of movement” is one of the four founding principles of the EU and this presumes the right to travel without being placed under surveillance except for very limited and exceptional purposes. The UK proposals go in quite the opposite direction including gathering personal data for “purposes other than those specified in Directive” or “from transportation providers other than those specified in the Directive”.