|Collection of flight passenger data violates human rights - Complaints published (2008-03-31)
German NGO Working Group on Data Retention today published two
applications to the European Court of Justice by the European
Parliament contesting the transfer of PNR data to the US.
According to the arguments set forth in the documents, both the
indiscriminate collection of air passenger data in the US as well as a
similar proposal by EU commissioner Franco Frattini are incompatible
with the air travellers' fundamental rights.
The applications allege "a violation of fundamental rights and a
violation of the principle of proportionality". In detail, the
following arguments are put forward:
With regard to the applications that have now been published, the
Working Group on Data Retention calls upon Germany's federal government
to quit negotiations on the principally flawed plan to effectuate a
blanket retention of air traveller's data in Europe. Social democrats
and conservatives are urgently requested to introduce a parliamentary
order preventing the violation of our constitution by adopting the EU
Jurist Patrick Breyer of the Working Group explains: "The applications of the European Parliament could basically be copied to have the European plan annulled in court. The principle of proportionality prohibits the mass collection of innocent air traveller's data after passing border controls. It is disproportionate to collect everybody's data just because in rare cases, it could be useful to the authorities. Border authorities already have access to the data they need. The new plan is superfluous and can not be put into practise where European fundamental rights apply. In its decision concerning the mass scanning of vehicles' number plates, the German Constitutional Court earlier this month confirmed that data concerning citizens who are not wanted by the authorities must be discarded immediately."
After refusing to release the documents last year, the EU
commission could now be convinced to reverse its decision with the help
of the European Ombudsman. The documents now released were submitted by
the European Parliament to the European Court of Justice in 2004 and
lead to the annulment of two decisions legalizing the transfer of PNR
data to the US.
Since the Court could base its judgement of formal grounds and did not
need to examine the compatibility with human rights, EU member states -
chief negotiator being Germany's conservative Minister of the Interior
Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble - consequently agreed on a formally correct but
even more excessive treaty with the United States. The treaty, however,
only applies to passengers travelling to the US.
Yet last year conservative EU commissioner Franco Frattini
introduced a bill according to which the air travel of all European
citizens would be registered and retained in databases for 13 years.
The plan would affect all air travel between the EU and third
countries. With regard to the already fiercely contested directive on
the blanket retention of telecommunications data, the German Working
Group on data retention commented that "the next unconstitutional
retention of personal data is looming on the horizon. If the federal
government agrees to the EU plan, we will file a constitutional
complaint against it."