Confidential Irish airline passenger records are set to be monitored by a new agency as part of counter terrorism measures.
The Government plans to set up a new body which will involve the gardaí, custom officials and the Revenue Commissioners office as part of Europe-wide measures to tackle the ever-increasing terrorist threat.
In a bid to identify potential jihadi terrorists and to tackle organised crime gangs across Europe, the multi-agency security unit will monitor customer information held by airline companies which is usually confidential.
It comes after a string of attacks across Europe in recent months including the killing of 84 people at a Bastille celebration in Nice and the murder of French priest Fr Jacques Hamel in his own church in Normandy last week.
Under an April EU directive, each member state will now have to set up ‘passenger information units to manage information collected by air carriers.
Airlines will have to hand over their ‘passenger name record’ data which will be used for prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of those suspected of plotting terrorist attacks and those involved in serious crime. All of these details can also be exchanged between countries.
However, this will be on a “case-by-case basis” and can only be handed over for the purposes of terrorist and crime detection and prevention. This data will have to be retained for five years, but after six months, the data will be ‘masked out’ which means it will be stripped of the elements, such as name, address and contact details.
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