Belgium Wants EU Nations To Collect And Store Personal Data Of Train, Bus And Boat Passengers

from the what-next?-bicycles? dept

It’s become pretty common for the authorities to collect personal information about passengers from airlines, supposedly to ensure security. It’s a sensitive area, though, as shown by the many years of fraught US-EU negotiations that were required in order to come up with a legal framework for transferring this data to the US when EU citizens were involved. However, not all EU countries are so concerned about that privacy thing. Belgium, for example, thinks that the current approach doesn’t go far enough, and that it should be extended to include all forms of mass transport. As this EurActiv article notes, the Belgian parliament has already voted to bring in a national system for trains, buses and boats by May 2018, and the country is calling for the rest of the EU to follow suit:

In response to a number of terror attacks, Belgium wants greater control over who travels on its trains, buses and boats and will present its plans at the next meeting of EU interior ministers at the end of January.

However, there’s a problem. Last year, the EU finally passed the EU Passenger Name Record (EUPNR) directive:

The EU PNR directive will oblige airlines to hand EU countries their passengers’ data in order to help the authorities to fight terrorism and serious crime. It would require more systematic collection, use and retention of PNR data on air passengers, and would therefore have an impact on the rights to privacy and data protection.

Despite data protection safeguards that were included, resistance to bringing in this directive was fierce from many quarters. EurActiv says:

According to EU diplomats, the decision on air traffic passenger data was already a “big step” and that measure only applies to travellers going to or from third party destinations.

Against that background, asking the EU to extend the PNR scheme to include trains, buses and boats may be going too far, so to speak. Nonetheless, it’s a bad idea that’s now out there, and all-too likely to spread.

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Comments on “Belgium Wants EU Nations To Collect And Store Personal Data Of Train, Bus And Boat Passengers”

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18 Comments
That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

But we’ve screwed up to many times because we can’t handle the data we have now, so the best course of action is to get even more data to keep us blind to actual threats. This data will come in handy for us to target people who dare question what we are doing. If we can silence those people, we can go forward with implanting GPS chips in everyone who enters our borders & track them everywhere and this will totally keep us safer & not be used for personal gain.

Richard (profile) says:

Have the Belgians noticed

That most recent terror attacks are only loosely connected to mass transit?

Are they going to demand information about who shows up at the terminal building but never gets on a flight, or who goes to a nightclub or concert, or who walks along the seafront?

After all that is where the most recent attacks have happened.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Have the Belgians noticed

“That most recent terror attacks are only loosely connected to mass transit?”

From reading the linked article, I think that the idea is this: Since the guy responsible for the Berlin attack went to France and the Netherlands before he was shot in Italy, he might have been captured sooner if he had to provide documents and/or was not be able to buy new tickets at the last minute.

Pretty weak. I’d wager someone in charge has been trying to get all transport to have airline-style records for years and this is finally his chance. It’s sadly typical – people are scared so push through bad laws while nobody’s paying attention to the details.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Have the Belgians noticed

Since the guy responsible for the Berlin attack went to France and the Netherlands before he was shot in Italy, he might have been captured sooner if he had to provide documents and/or was not be able to buy new tickets at the last minute.

But "being captured sooner" doesn’t prevent anything – and since a large proportion of these attacks are suicide missions anyway it is often irrelevant.

The problem with our anti-terror forces is that (as usually happens) they are fighting the last war. This is not like the IRA/Red Brigades or even earlier rounds of Palestinian (as opposed to Islamic) terrorism.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Have the Belgians noticed

Just pass a law that requires all terrorists to register and get their ankle bracelet installed.

Simple, then you sit around for another few years laughing it up on the taxpayer dime before having to fess up that it was all bullshit to begin with and we need to have another go at it which will require more taxes so get ready to pony up again for the same thing you already paid for several times now. I am really getting tired of this shit.

PaulT (profile) says:

While the privacy thing is important, the major problems are highlighted very well here:

“It will mean that anyone wanting to travel by rail, sea or by bus to another EU country will have to register their information.

The days of buying a last minute ticket will effectively end and it will be impossible to travel, for example, on the Brussels-Cologne high-speed Thalys service without planning ahead.”

It might sound trivial, but the ability to go anywhere at any time, whether for business or leisure, is very important in the EU, especially for shorter journeys (the one mentioned is about 140 miles / 2 hours). So, why would they consider disrupting the lives of their citizens, who for the last few decades have enjoyed complete freedom of movement?

Oh. Right. Terrorism. They managed to scare you so much that you’d sell the rights of your own citizens for the illusion of more control. Until the next attack, where you’ll try to work out which other rights to burn. Which is exactly what they’re trying to achieve.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

How about keeping track of everyone entering and leaving commercial buildings and public spaces. Disney World already does this on a pretty large scale. You wear a magic band on your wrist and wave it past a reader to enter a ride. This would not be too big of an inconvenience upon the entire population. And everyone would soon get used to it and accept it as normal. Next the tiny chip in the wrist band could simply be implanted at birth. What’s not to like? Isn’t the ultimate goal to keep us all safe from wrong thinking people?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Never mind that chip implants have been found to cause cancerous growths on and around said implanted device.

No big deal, I can see the ads now.
– Man up and get your implant now while supplies last or risk not getting to work on time and the subsequent loss of job. Don’t be a luddite. Come on down to Chips R Us. LOcated at the corner of lies and deception.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If everyone has the chip and the cancerous growths, then it becomes accepted as normal. Obviously people get cancerous growths, and the chips are the way to help prevent it, although prevention is not 100% effective, it obviously works because some people will not develop cancerous growths.

Get the cause and effect right is important for marketing.

Why do we have a moon in the sky? Because the ocean tides cause the moon.

Anonymous Coward says:

Oh just fuck these bastards sideways. And for the record, I’m not talking about the ‘terrists’. Not even leveling the entire Belgium flat would “justify” this sort of abuse. STOP WATCHING CSI:EU, GET OFF YOUR LAZY ASSES, AND LEARN TO DO YOUR JOB PROPERLY YOU IDIOTS. Only Harrison Ford gets to say “enhance!”. YOU DON’T.

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