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Joint Statement by Janet Napolitano, United States Secretary of Homeland Security, and Claude Gueant, French Interior Minister on the Endorsement of the U.S-EU Passenger Name Record Agreement

Release Date: 
December 2, 2011

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

“The United States and France have a joint history, as old as our republics, of cooperating to protect the security and rights of our citizens.  Every day officers of the Department of Homeland Security and the Ministry of Interior work together to prevent illicit travel, secure global commerce and bring criminals to justice.  This partnership extends beyond our bilateral cooperation to an agreement that establishes transatlantic and global standards – we do so by the example of our domestic practices and our participation in multilateral frameworks.  It is with these goals in mind that today we reaffirm our mutual intent to support the U.S.-EU Agreement on the Use and Transfer of Passenger Name Records, initialed in Paris on November 17 by DHS Deputy Secretary Jane Holl Lute and Director Reinhard Priebe of the European Commission.

The agreement demonstrates how the United States and European Union are working together to fight terrorism and transnational threats within the framework of American, French and European law and is a significant enhancement of the 2007 agreement.  PNR data has aided nearly every high profile U.S. terrorist investigation in recent years including New York City subway bomber Najibullah Zazi, Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, and David Headley, who was involved in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack and was planning attacks in Europe. For the first time, all of our commitments on PNR have been incorporated into a single agreement that helps ensure the safety and security of the travelling public while providing legal certainty for airlines and assuring travelers that their privacy will be respected.

Within that framework, the agreement includes a clear and defined scope focused on the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorism and crime.  It also features a retention period that is narrow and tailored to specified types of crime, with personally identifiable information viewable in an active database for only 6 months.  Reciprocity has been strengthened through new opportunities for police and judicial cooperation between the U.S. and EU authorities by defining when PNR will be exchanged to support European cases.  Finally, it reaffirms our commitment to continued engagement on the operational and privacy impacts of the agreement, including through regular joint reviews that will look at, among other topics, onward transfer and the use of the “push” system for collecting PNR. 

With these and other reforms in mind, the United States and France express the wish that the Member States of the European Union and the European Parliament will approve the agreement as expeditiously as possible.”

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