Part 3 of the Home Office paper to the EU Parliament - "Liberty and Security - Striking the Right Balance" -
A modern border control: using passenger name records
* Ever greater numbers of people travel across the EU’s borders bringing benefits to the EU. We also use borders to improve security for our citizens and visitors.
* Passenger Name Records represent information collected for commercial purposes for flight segments of a journey but can also provide vital clues for law-enforcement.
* By building up profiles indicating engagement in criminal activity it is possible to focus law-enforcement efforts on the highest risk. This is carried out in a proportionate targeted way.
By 2010, it is anticipated that some 120 million people will travel to the UK each year. The numbers for the European Union as a whole are significantly greater. The International Organisation for Migration estimate that there are 175 million international migrants worldwide (a figure which has more than doubled over the last 35 years) and Europe is a major host area for them.
No country wants to deter the legitimate business travellers who are critical to their economy. At the same time we rely heavily on an effective border control in our counter terrorism strategies, in tackling organised criminal activity as well as maintaining an immigration control. In carrying out our border control work we must strike the balance between legitimate trade and travel, processed with the minimum of inconvenience, against the harm caused by organised crime.
Against the background of increased travel and greater internal freedoms countries must find ways for our border agencies to work together more effectively to protect our borders. Increasingly countries are turning to an intelligence-led approach to border management.
Proper risk analysis and intelligence-focussed border management by law enforcement agencies, underpinned by access to passenger information in advance of travel, can support a more effective and flexible control that is appropriate to the perceived level of threat at any given time. In particular it allows law enforcement resources to be focussed where they are most needed and provide the potential for faster processing of low-risk passengers.
Passenger Name Records
A Passenger Name Record (PNR) in the air transport industry is the generic name given to records created by aircraft operators or their authorised agents for each journey booked on or behalf of any passenger. The data is used by operators for their own commercial and operational purposes in providing air transportation services. A PNR is built up from data that has been supplied by or on behalf of a passenger concerning all the flight segments of a journey. This data may be added to by the operator or authorised agent, for example changes to requested seating, additional services required, etc. The structure of individual PNRs and the amount of data they contain vary widely. The number and nature of the fields of information in a PNR will vary depending on the reservation system used during the initial booking, or other data collection mechanism employed, the itinerary involved and also upon the special requirements of the passenger. PNR data comprises a range of elements such as date of ticket reservation, date and place of ticket issue, payment details, passenger/travel agent contact details and travel itinerary. An example of a PNR is attached at Annex A.
Police Officers investigating a rape in London held a suspect who claimed to be out of the UK at the time of the alleged offence. Examination of flight manifests and PNR data allowed police officers to quickly disprove his alibi.
How is it used?
PNRs are particular important in the intelligence-led approach to border control. They can provide law enforcement with a valuable source of data for risk assessment and intelligence purposes. Through a combination of operational experience, specific intelligence and historical analysis the border agencies can build up pictures of suspect passengers or patterns of travel behaviour. PNR data may then be used to indicate suspect behaviour by enabling the identification of individuals whose travel details share common characteristics with those pre-defined profiles.
Indicators or profiles can be of varying degrees of complexity. For example, operational experience may indicate that tickets used by a number of passengers who arrived undocumented were purchased with a single credit card. This indicates that the credit card may be linked with facilitation. The identification of the same payment details in a future booking will be, therefore, of significant interest to the Immigration Service. Whilst a single reservation data element can identify an individual of interest, it is more usually a combination of elements which indicate a suspect passenger and constitute a profile (e.g. a ticket purchased with cash at a ‘suspect’ travel agency). It is also important to emphasise that profiles would not be set in stone. They are in a constant state of flux and may differ from region to region, route to route and carrier to carrier.
The UK Immigration Service has successfully used PNR data to disrupt the facilitation of inadequately documented passengers. In August 2005, PNR checks on the basis of known profiles and a particular travel agency revealed six suspicious bookings on flights from Barcelona to Heathrow and Gatwick. The Heathrow Intelligence Unit informed the Airline Liaison Officer in Madrid who alerted the airline. As a consequence, the six passengers were identified as using counterfeit passports and were arrested by the Spanish police after being denied boarding.
Given that the value of passenger information is not confined to a single journey it is essential that law enforcement and intelligence agencies can retain PNR for a sufficient period of time as is necessary to achieve the aim of maintaining an effective border security capability. In the national security context, experience has taught that during the investigation following a terrorist incident the ability to historically identify suspected perpetrators by reference to their travel is a vital investigative tool. As the terrorists may have entered the country a considerable time before the incident the retention of the data for a reasonable of time is therefore necessary. We see this as a fundamental building block for enhancing border security.
Striking the right balance
In taking forward work on Passenger Name Records in the EU and with our international partners it will be important to clearly define what we mean by PNR as well as being clear about the purposes for which PNR may be used by Member States. The EU Commission are in the process of developing a proposal for the use of PNR and, indicative of their support for the initiative, Member State, including the UK, Germany, Spain, France and Italy, are participating in that work. In addition, there are extensive discussions in the ICAO on the issue with a view to establishing a recommended practice.
In the UK for example, Customs authorities have been using reservation data as a fundamental element of their intelligence-led control for some time. They can point to significant successes as a result of targeting based on the use of such information, for example, at London Airports a relatively small group of staff undertaking profiling with PNR data accounting for 30% of seizures of prohibited and restricted items.
Of particular importance in ensuring public confidence in the activities of the law-enforcement agencies is that data protection and Human Rights are respected. This means that use of the data elements contained within PNR which a carrier may be required to provide to MS should be in compliance with provisions under Directive 95/46/EC and equivalent national legislation, such as the Data Protection Act 1998. For example in the UK the authorities have to show that it is necessary and proportionate to hold data for a particular period and that data is not being retained for longer than needed. In any given case proposals must strike the right balance between protecting the privacy of the individual and ensuring that the Border Agencies have the capability to exercise fully their border security functions, removing barriers to effective operation wherever necessary.
A key aim of the UK e-Borders programme is to co-ordinate and enhance the existing levels of access that the border agencies variously have to PNR data. This will involve the establishment of processes to safeguard data and to ensure that it is used in a manner which is consistent with the border agencies’ data protection obligations. As part of that work, the e-Borders Programme is engaging with the Office of the Information Commissioner who is responsible for ensuring compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998.
EXAMPLE OF A PASSENGER NAME RECORD
Fare (TST) Indicator
--- TST RLR---
RP/LONXX0940/LONXX0940 OC/PR 12SEP01/1402Z X4NOQ7
1,2,3 – Name
1. STANLEY/SAMMR 2. STANLEY/DONNAMRS 3. STANLEY/DEAN (CHD)
4 – Itinerary
4 XX 949 C 02MAR 6 MUCLHR HK3 1135 1235 *1A/E*
5 – Itinerary
5 XX 954 C 10AR 7 LHRMUC HK3 1725 2010 *1A/E*
6 – MCO
6 MCO XX MUC 02MAR/GBP 150.00/*CAR RENTAL/P1
7 – Contact
7 AP MUC 089 975 654123 – H
8,9 – Ticketing arrangements
8 TK OK12SEP/LONXX0940
9 TK PAX OK12SEP/LONXX0940/ /ETXX/S4-5/P1-2
10,11 - Seat requests (Psgr 1 seat 4D, Psgr 2 Seat 4E, Psgr 3 seat 4F non smoking)
10 SSR RQST XX HK3 MUCLHR/04DN:P1/04EN:P2/04FN:P3/S4
11 SSR RQST XX HK3 LHRMUC/09FN: P1/09JN: P2/09KN: P3/S5
12, 13 – Meal requests
12 SSR RQST XX HK1/S4/P2
13 SSR RQST XX HK1/S5/P2
14 – OSI
14 OSI YY 1CHD/P3
15 – Confidential Option
15 OP LONXX0940/12SEP/X – 02FEB/CONFIDENTIAL OPTION
16 – General remarks
16 RM GENERAL REMARK – CAN BE READ BY ALL AMADEUS USERS
17 – Corporate Remarks
17 RX CORPORATE REMARK – CAN BE READ BY ALL XX OFFICES
18, 19, 20 – FA ( ticket numbers)
18 FA PAX 125-2100000007/GBP418.50/12SEP01/LONXX0940/91496716/S4 -5/P3
19 FA PAX 125-2400500020/ETXX/GBP612.50/12SEP01/LONXX0940/91496716/S4- 5/P1
20 FA PAX 125-2400500021/ETXX/GBP612.50/12SEP01/LONXX0940/91496716/S4- 5/P2
21, 22, 23 – FB
21 FB PAX 1000000066 TTP/PT/XH1 OK PROCESSED/S4-5/P3
22 FB PAX 1000000070 TTP/ET/XH1 OK ETICKET/S4-5/P1
23 FB PAX 1000000071 TTP/ET/XH1 OK ETICKET/S4-5/P2
24, 25, -FE Endorsement
24 FE *M* NO CASH REFUND/P1
25 FE *M* REFER REFUND SELLING OFFICE/P2
26, 27 – FP Forms of Payment
26 FP CCA549983000000049/0203/N5311/P1