Privacy

by Glyn Moody


Filed Under:
belgium, eu, personal data, terrorism, travel



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.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 6 Jan 2017 @ 3:49am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Richard (profile), 6 Jan 2017 @ 4:00am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 6 Jan 2017 @ 4:10am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Richard (profile), 6 Jan 2017 @ 4:38am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2017 @ 4:47am

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2017 @ 5:26am

        Re: Re: Have the Belgians noticed

        It is especially weak given the circumstances in Germany where the guy had 14 different identities. Since it takes time for secret services to check those things, it is unlikely that such investigations would turn over a rock before the guy is in Puntland, Somalia

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 6 Jan 2017 @ 4:04am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 6 Jan 2017 @ 4:41am

      Re:

      Yep - by making us do this the terrorists have pretty much won.

      Not a bit like the station announcement my mother heard in ww2.

      "ladies and gentlemen - it appears that platform 5 has been bombed the next train will therefore leave from platform 3."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2017 @ 7:23am

      Re:

      Exactly. Typical "Shock Doctrine" tactics

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Yes, I know I'm commenting anonymously, 6 Jan 2017 @ 4:06am

    The Belgians are running late

    Since implementing the (hackable) OV-chipcard, Dutch public transport already does this.
    (And yes, you can get `anonymous' cards but you have to put money on those with a debit-card, which makes them non-anonymous.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2017 @ 5:01am

    Ridiculous

    So, you think the terrorists are going to follow the rules when it comes to having the required documents / travel permits / visa / ... ?

    Yeah. Sure.

    It's like DRM, but for traveling: does nothing to stop the pirates, just annoys the hell out of the rest of us...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 6 Jan 2017 @ 5:05am

    "from the what-next?-bicycles? dept"

    Bikes, then walking via multiple checkpoints it seems. Instead of addressing the causes of terrorism and other social disruptions people all around are either attacking the symptoms (the attacks themselves) or completely unrelated targets (Muslims must be all terrorists, right?).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 6 Jan 2017 @ 6:04am

      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?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2017 @ 6:31am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          DannyB (profile), 6 Jan 2017 @ 6:36am

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2017 @ 6:35am

    First they came for the plane passengers...

    and I did not complain because I did not ride the planes.

    Then they came for....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    lolol, 6 Jan 2017 @ 6:35am

    cause granmas trip to the butt doctor needs to get known

    cause granmas trip to the butt doctor needs to get known

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2017 @ 8:49am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.