Stop proposed air travel files now (5 Dec 2008)

 The Working Group on Data Retention welcomes the German minister of justice's announcement not to decide on the EU plan to create an air travel file for every citizen until after the 2009 federal elections.[1] We now urge the minister to reject the proposal for good and abort the ongoing negotiations. The German parliament is also called upon to stop the EU proposal now.

With the total registration of all telecommunications in place since 2007, many EU governments now want to register every citizen's air travel as well - without any suspicion of wrong-doing. The governments plan to compile an electronic travel file on every citizen, containing, among others, their home address, telephone number, e-mail address, address and telephone number at the destination, rental car booking, hotel booking, payment data including credit card number, route information and meal chosen. The information is to be retained for several years so that "passengers with a elevated risk potential can be filtered out".[2] In the U.S. such practices have led to many innocent people facing problems at customs clearance, having their entry denied or even being arrested.

"The minister's reasoning - who said that the EU plan was 'impossible to justify in Germany' - proves successful the increasing civil pressure by way of protests and legal challenges", comments Patrick Breyer of the Working Group. "Naked airport scanners, on-line computer searches, air travel files - the government is increasingly forced to take into account the will of the people who consider even the current security laws excessive. But let us not be mistaken: After the 2009 elections conservatives and social democrats will continue to live their control drive uninhibitedly if we do not drop them at the elections."

Apart from public opinion, minister Brigitte Zypries justified her decision citing the pending constitutional complaint against the total registration of every citizen's telecommunications. Organised by the Working Group on Data Retention, more than 34.000 Germans filed a constitutional complaint against the law - adopted by conservative and social democrat MPs - in March of 2008.[3]


In 2007 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.[4] The plan would affect all air travel between the EU and third countries. Several EU governments such as France and Britain would like to register law-abiding citizens' EU flights and sea travel as well. Earlier this year the Working Group on Data Retention published the European Parliament's complaint against the transfer of passenger name records,[5] and announced it would sue the German government if it agreed to the disproportionate creation of electronic travel files on every citizen.[6] The airline industry[7] and the European Parliament[8] are also opposed to the plan which EU governments only dare pursue at EU level where no consent by parliament is required.

About Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung:

Arbeitskreis Vorratsdatenspeicherung ("German Working Group on Data Retention") is a German association of civil rights and privacy activists and Internet users. Home page:

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