PNR Collection Also for Maritime and Railway Traffic?
10 September 2019
2018-Max_Planck_Herr_Wahl_1355_black white_Zuschnitt.jpg Thomas Wahl

The Finnish Council Presidency intensifies discussion on whether the scope of the EU’s Directive on the use of passenger name record (PNR) data for the prevention, detection, investigation, and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime (Directive (EU) 2016/681) should be broadened. In a discussion paper, tabled on 25 June 2019, the Finnish Presidency invites the other Member States to discuss the usefulness and benefits of gathering PNR on other travelling forms.

The EU Directive (see eucrim 2/2016, p. 78) only applies to air carriers operating extra-EU flights; Member States can, however, decide to apply the same obligation to intra-EU flights, which most Member States do. PNR data may contain different types of information, such as travel dates, travel itinerary, ticket information, contact details, means of payment used, seat number, and baggage information. Law enforcement authorities consider the data useful for investigating and preventing crime.

The discussion paper points out that the travel volume inside and outside the Schengen area are both increasing. All forms of cross-border travelling pose risks to security, e.g., migrant smuggling, drug smuggling, terrorism, etc. Therefore, uniform EU rules on the use of PNR data on other forms of transportation, such as sea traffic and international high-speed trains, may offer added value. In this context, the discussion paper points out that some Member States already collect PNR data from other travelling forms than those used for air traffic.

The discussion paper is the outcome of a questionnaire on progress made in implementing Directive 2016/681, the results of which were presented during the Romanian Council Presidency in the first half of 2019. Accordingly, the majority of Member States favoured broadening the scope of data collection to other types of transportation (87% to maritime, 76% to railway, 67% to road traffic) but also stressed that the EU Directive on air traffic must be implemented first. Furthermore, any extension must ensure that the Passenger Information Units responsible for the PNR data base and data exchange can manage the additional data volume.

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Thomas Wahl

Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law (MPI CSL)

Public Law Department

Senior Researcher