Belgium's Constitutional Court has announced its decision in an appeal lodged by the League of Human Rights (LDH) against the law on the systematic recording of passenger data, also known as the Passenger Name Record Act (PNR). This law, which was part of a response to terrorist attacks in Belgium, enables authorities to closely control the personal data of the general population.
LDH applauds the Court's decision to ask no less than 10 prejudicial questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on whether the legislation complies with European law. Indeed, the questions submitted to the Court reflect most of our criticisms. In a nutshell, is the collection of personal data on a massive scale and the widespread surveillance of people really proportionate?
This type of data collection is all the more disturbing given that the law concerns every passenger, irrespective of any objective proof of any individual being likely to pose a risk to public safety. Is this massive collection of data, which includes sensitive data, really necessary to reach the goals that were set out? But also, will this legislation indirectly lead to the re-establishment of internal borders?
We hope the Court will confirm its earlier case law by protecting the right of citizens to privacy (like it did in its decision regarding the legislation on data retention) and that it will condemn such disproportionate tools of massive surveillance of innocent citizens.