This story is over 5 years old.


The 42 Things that Authorities Want to Know About Everyone Flying In or Out of Europe

The latest European Commission counter-terror plan permits the collection of 42 pieces of personal information from every passenger — including what you ate on the plane.
Photo by Fen Labalme

The latest European Commission counter-terror plan permits the wide-ranging collection and storage of 42 pieces of personal information from every passenger flying in and out of Europe.

The material includes names, numbers, addresses, and banking details, as well as food preferences and detailed flight information. The cache will be accessible by police and security services for up to five years after collection.


In a speech on Wednesday, Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European Commission member in charge of Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, described the plan as "necessary to enhance substantially the security of all people living in Europe" and for "the prevention of terrorist and serious transnational crimes."

Despite Avramopoulos urging the co-legislators "to work together towards a quick adoption," he stressed that "no decision has been made."

Carly Nyst, Legal Director at Privacy International, told VICE News that the plan was "a mass violation of the right to privacy of every single person who travels through European airspace."

The collected data will be fed into what the Guardian describes as "a super-database of air passenger movements" which encompasses the entirety of Europe's external borders.

European Interior ministers, including UK Home Security Theresa May, agreed to the plan on the day of the "Je suis Charlie" march on January 11, held in wake of terror attacks in the French capital.

Mass surveillance does not stop terrorists, Europe's top rights body says. Read more here.

In a joint statement issued that day, the ministers expressed their aims to swiftly finalize legislation that allows the commission "to step up the detection and screening of travel movements by European nationals crossing the European Union's external border."

The plan is a priority issue for discussion at the informal Justice and Home Affairs meeting between European interior ministers in Riga on Thursday. If agreed over the coming months the plan will be implemented as security strategy for 2015-20.


The timing of the ministers' statement suggests that they may be using the events in Paris as a justification for heightened surveillance and intelligence gathering, despite the fact that the attackers involved were already known to French police before the events and their watch had being called off during the summer.

This plan comes at a period of heightened security awareness in Europe. The recent attacks in Paris, anti-terror shootouts in Belgium, and the steady flow of European nationals to Syria and Iraq all contribute to an increasingly complex threat to the continent.

Despite the criteria for legal access to this information being limited to offences involving terrorism and serious transnational crime, there have been concerns voiced by civil liberty campaigners.

Privacy International laments that the plan is "breath-taking in its boldness," stating that it "steadfastly ignores" the decisions of the European Court of Justice and the EU Civil Liberties Committee that blanket data retention is unacceptable.

Indeed, the proposal seems to disregard a recent report form Europe's top rights body, which stated that mass surveillance "is not even effective as a tool in the fight against terrorism and organized crime."

The report from the assembly of the Council of Europe, a body that advises the European Court of Human Rights, also raised concerns that mass surveillance operations might actually hamper anti-terror operations as "resources that might prevent attacks" are instead used for monitoring purposes.


UK will ask preschool teachers to spy on children in latest counter-terror proposals. Read more here.

Equally the plans inconveniently come only days after the Britain's Surveillance Commissioner, Tony Porter, expressed his concern about "the lack of public awareness about the nature of surveillance" and warned that "we should not sleepwalk into a surveillance society."

Here are the 42 pieces of passenger information, as reported by the Guardian, that the European Commission terror plan hopes to record:

1. Nationality
2. Name
3. Given names
4. Last name
5. Gender
6. Date of birth
7. Address
8. All forms of payment information
9. Billing address
10. Contact telephone numbers
11. Email address
12. Purchase one-way tickets
13. Date of reservation
14. Date(s) of intended travel
15. Date of ticket issued
16. No-show history
17. No-show information
18. Frequent flyer information
19. Seat number
20. Seat information
21. Passport number
22. Country which issued passport
23. Passport expiry date
24. Passenger name record locator code
25. Special Service Requests, such as meal preferences
26. Other names on passenger name record (PNR)
27. All travel itinerary for specific PNR
28. Code share PNR information
29. Split/divided PNR information
30. All historical changes to PNR
31. Number of travellers on PNR
32. General remarks
33. Bag tag history
34. Travel agency
35. Travel agent
36. Travel status of passenger
37. Ticketing field information
38. Ticket number
39. Any collected advanced passenger information system information
40. Automatic ticketing fare quote
41. Received from information
42. Other service-related information

Follow Frederick Tiffin on Twitter: @FrederickTiffin

Image via Flickr