Sat, May 29, 2004
Agreement to collect
limited, filtered data will last 3-1/2 years
Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, Irish Ambassador Noel
Fahey (representing the Presidency of the European Union), and
European Union Ambassador Gunter Burghardt, (representing the
European Commission) have signed an agreement that will allow U.S.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to collect airline Passenger
Name Record (PNR) information relating to flights between the
United States and the European Union.
Although air carriers have been providing PNR data since March
2003 under an interim arrangement, this agreement will establish
the legal basis for such information to be collected and
transferred consistent with U.S. and European Union (EU) laws.
The agreement will be in effect for three-and-a-half years once
it is implemented, with renegotiations to start within one year of
the agreement’s expiration date. The comprehensive
arrangement concluded with the EU, which includes this agreement as
well as a more specific set of Undertakings setting forth in detail
how CBP will process and handle PNR data, contains specific
guidance on the use and retention of the PNR data.
Data will be retained by
CBP for three and a half years, unless associated with an
enforcement action. Only 34 PNR data elements will be accessed by
CBP, to the extent collected in the air carriers' reservation and
departure control systems. CBP will filter and delete "sensitive
data," as mutually identified by CBP and the European
PNR data will be used by CBP strictly for purposes of preventing
- Terrorism and related crimes
- Other serious crimes, including organized crime, that are
transnational in nature
- Flight from warrants or custody for the crimes described
“The U.S. and the EU are equally committed to not only
improving the safety of air passengers and the security of our
borders, but also to protecting the privacy of air passengers
consistent with both U.S. and European laws,” said Secretary
Ridge. “Today’s signing is the result of more
than a year of negotiations between the United States and the
European Commission, and is a sign of our united commitment to
Without an agreement, air carriers were placed in a situation
where they could either face fines for violating EU privacy laws or
penalties for failing to provide passenger data to CBP.
Through the interim arrangement, both the U.S. and the EU had
agreed not to take enforcement action while negotiations were
underway. Today’s formal agreement removes air carriers
from that situation and strikes a balance between facilitating
legitimate travel while contributing to the security of the U.S.
and EU member states.
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