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Passenger Name Records Directive is the wrong answer to security challenge

Meeting : "How uniform is Cancer Care in Europe"

Press Release

Thursday 14 Apr 2016

Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, criticised the majority of members of the European Parliament who decided to approve a stalled Directive mandating air carriers to communicate passenger information to EU governments. This information, known as Passenger Name Records, contains a number of details on citizens’ travel movements.

Speaking from Strasbourg after the vote, Ms. Childers said:

“It is not by chance that this proposal was quashed in the European Parliament before, and has now been greenlighted on foot of terror attacks and heightened security risks in Europe.

“We have caved to the temptation to grab the latest set of security measures stuck in the backburner in a scramble to show our citizens we are working to protect them from terrorism.

“Fine Gael members accused me of the worst kind of posturing by raising what they call unfounded concerns over privacy and data protection.

“Yet it was their parliamentary group that put out graphic images on social media, accusing opponents of this legislation of having blood on our hands due to our stance. How is that for populist posturing?

“They surely don’t seem much concerned over fundamental rights, seeing as it took a continued refusal from progressive members to put this matter to a vote before EU governments agreed to do their homework on reviewing general data protection legislation.

“My question to them is, why did they and their allies decide to clear this method of mass surveillance and dragnet data gathering whilst making the sharing of data optional, at the discretion of each member state?

“Why are we spending millions tinkering and trying to plug different systems at each national level? This whole system could end up costing EU taxpayers a billion euros that are sorely needed in policing, intelligence, judicial and information sharing capabilities.

“Why did they oppose a targeted method, with judicial oversight, which would allow us to do all they want without involving the data of all citizens? And yet chartered and private flights escape the dragnet that will ensnare us all.

“It is not a shortage of data that has hampered our counter-terrorist efforts, but the very lack of cross-border cooperation to share it which we have very much failed to mandate today, while diverting scarce resources on a blind database.

“We should not compound a heightened vulnerability from terror with self-inflicted weaknesses in our fundamental rights and liberal forms of government.

“When we do, we play into the hands of our foes, who score a victory every time the chicken-hawks overreact.”

Ends