Best Free Reference
Web Site 2007
TOP 10 MIGRATION ISSUES OF 2007
Issue#5: Managing Global Travel with Technology and Cooperation
The European Union will actively push some airline passenger name record (PNR) data elements to a system run by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in early 2008.
Countries continue to adopt technological means of supporting border and immigration
officials' decisions about what travelers pose risks or are barred by law,
making biometrics the norm and not the exception.
Malaysia, which pioneered the use of biometric passports, credits them with
reducing passport theft in 2007. Nigeria has had difficulty keeping up
with demand for them this year.
The US-VISIT system, an automated entry-exit tracking system that collects
biographical and biometric data from foreign nationals, began the tidal wave
of change toward biometric-based border screening systems when it launched
in January 2004.
In November, Japan began its own US-VISIT-style program of fingerprinting,
photographing, and questioning foreign citizens every time they enter Japan.
The country's 2.1 million foreign residents will eventually be included.
in November, the United Kingdom announced a GBP1.2 billion program to strengthen
offshore border controls with new passenger screening technology. The electronic
border security system will check all UK-bound passengers against immigration,
customs, and police watch lists. The country boasts that successful trials
of the new system have already led to the capture of more than 1,000 criminals.
systems, however, raise privacy concerns and tensions among countries when
standards differ. Since the early 1980s, the European Union has set standards
for privacy protections of EU citizens' data. These are considerably tougher
than those adopted by the United States as it has sought to tighten airline
security and identify and track terrorists post-9/11.
But governments have been forced to compromise in order to keep airlines flying.
The US Aviation and Transportation Security Act of November 2001 mandates that
airlines operating passenger flights to, from or through the United States
provide US authorities, upon request, with electronic access to passenger name
records (PNRs) contained in their reservation and departure control systems.
EU citizens' data — specifically PNRs containing travel itineraries, payment
details, and other information that comprises "travel intelligence" — became
less private in July when the European Union and the United States signed a
long-term agreement fulfilling the requirements of the 2001 US law.
Under the new agreement, which becomes effective January 1, 2008, the European
Union will actively push 19 PNR data elements (of approximately 60)
to a system run by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). DHS will no
longer pull PNR data from air carriers' reservation/departure control systems.
In addition, DHS will now keep the data for seven years in an active database
and for eight years thereafter in an inactive status, accessing it only in
exceptional circumstances and under strict conditions. However, these terms remain
The European Union sees PNRs as a useful tool for its own security, too. In November, the European Commission proposed a Council Decision Framework on the use of PNRs for law enforcement purposes. The idea is to upgrade and harmonize national efforts obligating air carriers making international flights to share passenger information in advance of their flights.
Whether the US-EU agreement stabilizes travel-security-related diplomacy and pays
off more in counterterrorism, crime control, and immigration management than
its political cost to US-EU relations remains to be seen.
Back to the top
If you have questions or comments about this article, contact us at
2002-2013 Migration Policy Institute.
All rights reserved.
Migration Information Source, ISSN 1946-4037
MPI · 1400 16th St. NW, Suite 300 · Washington, DC 20036
ph: (001) 202-266-1940 · fax: (001) 202-266-1900