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Shatter proposes Ireland opts into EU passenger data sharing agreement

Minister for Justice says any measure which gives gardaí an advantage in fight against terrorism and serious crime deserves out support.

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE Alan Shatter has said he believes Ireland should become involved in an EU directive on using air passenger data to combat terrorism and other serious crime.

Presenting a motion for Ireland to opt into the directive to the Dáil today, Shatter said: “Any measure which can give the gardaí and their EU counterparts an advantage in the fight against terrorism and other serious criminal activities is to be welcomed and deserves our support.”

The directive was agreed under the Stockholm Programme in 2009 but has not yet come into effect.

Under it, Passenger Name Record (PNR) data from flights into and out of the EU will be available to the national authorities of the EU member states to target terrorism and serious crime, Shatter said.

The EU is currently involved in PNR data sharing agreements which allows authorities in the US, Canada and Australia access to that information. UK, Sweden and Spain already collect PNR data, but this directive would see PNR data being accessed by authorities in other member states.

Currently, the directive proposals cover flights into and out of the EU, but it may be expanded to cover flights within the EU.

Shatter said that the directive proposals include a clear limitation, in that ”the data collected and processed may only be used for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime”.

The offences involved are those already established in European and national law under the Framework Decisions on combating terrorism and on the European Arrest Warrant.  To that extent it will complement those instruments.

Under the directive, personalised data would be retained for 30 days before being ‘anonymised’ and stored in a database for a further five years from which it may be accessed by certain members of national authorities.

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