Minister Flanagan announces proposed counter-terrorism legislation requiring advance passenger information for flights entering or leaving the State

  • New advance passenger information system will be part of a harmonised EU shared intelligence network to counter terrorism and serious crime
  • Passenger Information Unit to be established to collect, process and transfer data for use by law enforcement authorities in the State and in other Member States
  • Robust data protection safeguards will be built into the legislation
  • Minister says “The establishment of this passenger name record system - known as PNR - is an essential component of the Irish and EU anti-terrorism infrastructure

3 February 2018

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr Charles Flanagan TD, today announced that the Government approved his proposals to introduce new legislation on Passenger Name Records (PNR). The proposed legislation will require airlines to provide advance passenger information to the authorities in respect of flights from outside the EU entering or leaving the State. The legislation is based on the provisions of EU Directive 2016/681 which sets down rules on the use of passenger name record data for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime. The Directive requires air carriers to provide Member States’ authorities with advance PNR information in respect of flights entering or departing the EU, known as extra-EU flights. It is intended to implement the mandatory PNR requirements of the EU Directive by way of a statutory instrument. Ireland must bring in new measures by 25 May.

The Minister emphasised the significance of the planned new legislation, stating

"The proposed new PNR system is recognised across the EU as a key element in the fight against terrorism. This shared intelligence resource will be available to law enforcement and other competent authorities throughout the EU. It will facilitate informed, coordinated and targeted action among Member States and enhance national and EU security to protect the safety and lives of individual citizens.”

The legislation will provide for the establishment of a Passenger Information Unit which will be responsible for the collection, processing and transfer of PNR data for use by relevant authorities in the State, other Member States and Europol. Transfer of data to third countries will only take place on a case-by-case basis and subject to certain conditions. The PIU, which is currently operating on a pilot basis using test data, will be based in Dublin and come under the remit of the Department of Justice and Equality. It will be a centralised, multi-agency unit comprising representatives from relevant national competent authorities.

The proposed new legislation on PNR will reflect the EU Directive in containing robust data protection provisions, including in relation to the retention and destruction of PNR data and documentation. PNR data will only be permitted to be retained for a period of 5 years and then must be destroyed, unless legal proceedings are in train. Furthermore, PNR data must be depersonalised after a period of 6 months, through masking out of personal data elements. A further safeguard in the legislation will be that the Passenger Information Unit will have a Data Protection Officer who will be responsible for monitoring and ensuring compliance with data protection requirements.

The Minister stated

"The legislation on PNR will contain important safeguards for the protection of people’s data and ensure that the information collected is treated with care and only used for the specific purposes of dealing with terrorism or other serious crime. It is important to strike the right balance between a proportionate response to the risks and threats faced and respecting the fundamental rights of individual citizens.”

ENDS

Charlie Flanagan TD

Charlie Flanagan TD

Charlie Flanagan TD is Minister for Justice and Equality.

 

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Updated: 6 February 2018

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