updated 11/5/2007 11:29:00 AM ET 2007-11-05T16:29:00

The EU would adopt security measures for airline passengers similar to those in the U.S., storing information such as e-mail addresses and telephone numbers for 13 years, under a proposal to be unveiled Tuesday by the EU's top justice official.

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The proposal calls for the collection of up to 19 pieces of data from airline passengers that would be held for more than a decade as part of a new EU-wide anti-terror drive, according to a copy of the plan.

The United States has collected extensive data on passengers flying to U.S. destinations to weed out terror suspects since the Sept. 11 attacks — a system heavily criticized by data privacy advocates.

Franco Frattini, the EU's justice commissioner, drafted the new measures which were reviewed by The Associated Press.

The plan, if approved by EU governments, would require airlines to hand over so-called Passenger Name Record, or PNR, data to national policing authorities before scheduled flights. Information would be used to assess the potential risk of those flying into the 27-nation bloc or leaving it.

The information will be used to carry out "a risk assessment of the threat level of unknown passengers ... well in advance of a flight's arrival," the draft said.

Frattini has said his plan would offer an EU-wide standard do outline what data can be collected from passengers that enter an EU country's airspace. Currently, only three EU states — Britain, Denmark and France — have established rules to collect and use PNR data, but their national systems vary substantially.

Privacy rights group Statewatch said the system would do little to root out terror suspects, while further degrading data protection rules granted to EU and other non-European citizens.

"This is yet another measure that places everyone under surveillance and makes everyone a 'suspect' without any meaningful right to know how the data is used," said Tony Bunyan from Statewatch.

"There is little evidence that the gathering of 'mountain upon mountain' of data on the activities of every person in the EU makes a significant contribution."

The EU plan said a pilot project conducted by British authorities showed it was able to make "numerous arrests," thanks to the collection of such sensitive data, "gaining ... valuable intelligence in relation to terrorism" and identifying human trafficking networks.

Passenger profiles, which would include how the flight ticket was purchased, where, when and by whom, will be initially retained for five years. It will then be transferred to a "dormant" database for a further eight years before it is permanently deleted.

Authorities from member states can use the data to question and even deny entry to people who they deem a terror risk, the proposal said.

An EU system would be similar to the EU-U.S. passenger data sharing deal, which under an agreement signed earlier this year, reduces the number of pieces of information currently transferred to U.S. authorities from 34 to 19.

That data can be kept for up to 15 years, but after the first seven years becomes "dormant" and can only be accessed on a case-by-case basis under strict rules.

Under the proposed EU system and current U.S. system, certain sensitive data — defined as anything that could reveal a passenger's race or religion, political views or sexual preferences — would automatically be filtered and deleted.

European data protection officers have questioned the need for the EU to set up such a system and have warned EU officials they are "not convinced" of the need of such a measure. They have already criticized the U.S. system for not offering enough data protection guarantees.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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