On Thursday, 19 January, the Saeima adopted Air Passenger Data Law in the final reading. The law creates a legal framework for the establishment of Passenger Name Record (PNR).
The law will enable law enforcement agencies to use air passenger data for assessing terrorist threats, prevention and detection of severe and serious crime, as well as mitigating threats to national security.
In response to the recent terrorist attacks, European Union (EU) member states decided to draft a framework for such a regulation; the EU PNR directive was conceived during the Latvian Presidency in the first half of 2015.
According to the summary of the law, assessment of air passenger data will enable security services to identify persons involved in in terrorism or in serious crime but previously unsuspected of such involvement.
Draft law stipulates that passenger data will be collected and stored in a registry supervised by the Latvian Security Police. The registry will contain various data, but the core data set will comprise information provided by passengers upon purchasing plane tickets. The registry will also hold pre-flight passenger information, such as checked-in units of baggage, as well as the port of entry through which a person enters Latvia.
Air carriers will be required to send data to the PNR 48-24 hours before the scheduled flight and right upon the boarding completion. In emergency cases, for example, under an imminent terrorist threat, security services will be authorised to request data in advance.
Access to PNR data shall be granted by a court order when such information is required to prevent or detect crime. Court authorisation will primarily be issued to security services, police officers, border guards, the anti-corruption agency officials and financial crime and customs units. In cases when an immediate response is required to prevent a terorist attack or actual danger to human life, access to data can be granted without a court order.
Passenger data can also be shared with the competent authorities of other countries to prevent crime.
Passenger data processing will be subject to the general personal data protection requirements. The draft law mandates the government to specify the procedures for submitting and collecting passenger data.
The security situation in Europe and the world has changed drastically. According to the authors of the law, an increasing number of countries recognises the need to create passenger data registries and thus strengthen the aviation security and border control, as well as prevent terrorism. Such registers would enhance the fight against global terrorism and organised crime, built on global networks and the advancement of aviation infrastructure. Such crime includes drug trafficking, sexual abuse of children, human trafficking and money laundering.
The law shall come to force as of 3 April 2017. Air carriers will be required to start submitting data no later than 1 September of the same year.
Saeima Press Service