France jumps EU law and follows UK with mass surveillance of air travellers

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Earlier this month, the French parliament gave its definitive approval to a bill of law fixing France’s defence programmes, objectives and budget for the period 2014-2019. When it was presented earlier this year, this wide-ranging legislation drew headlines over its sweeping cuts in defence jobs and spending. More recently, it caused controversy over its introduction of real-time monitoring of internet and mobile phone communications by police and intelligence agencies. However, as Louise Fessard reports, its plans for mass surveillance don’t stop there: it contains a provision, largely overlooked, that will see the creation of a database that records details of all airline passengers travelling to and from France, based on the ‘Passenger Name Record’  system which uses profiling techniques that are the target of fierce criticism from civil liberties bodies, not least the the European Data Protection Supervisor, the EU’s watchdog for the protection of personal privacy.

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Article 17 of France’s new military programming law provides for the creation of a ‘passenger name record’ (PNR) and ‘advanced passenger information’ (API) database which records the details of air travel passengers using French airports.