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Blow to privacy as airlines told to share international passengers’ info


NEW DELHI:  In a move that flies in the face of privacy rights, the Centre has brought in a law that mandates airlines to share the details of incoming and outgoing international passengers with the Customs department 24 hours before departure.

Airlines will now have to share personal details of international passengers including name, age, phone number, email address, travel itinerary as well and as sensitive information such as the credit card number used to book the ticket, frequent flyer details etc.

The finance ministry on Monday notified the Passenger Name Record (PNR) Information Regulation, 2022 seeking to curb cross-border economic crimes by preventing offenders from fleeing the country. With this, India joined 60 other countries that collect PNR details of international passengers.

Under the new regulation, aircraft operators will have to transfer the PNR details to the Customs department in a specified format. The data thus shared will be used for “the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of offences under the Customs Act”, the finance ministry said.

The information may also be shared with other departments including law enforcement agencies in India and abroad. 

The new regulations will help the government curb cross-border crimes, said Tanushree Roy, director (indirect tax) at Nangia Andersen India. “The Regulations will also help keep a track record of every passenger travelling to and from India,” she added. 

Abhishek Jain, partner (indirect tax) at KPMG in India, said the government should ensure that strict privacy guidelines are followed so as to prevent unauthorised usage. 

EU court eases rules over privacy concerns
Airlines in EU are supposed to share PNR data with member countries. However, a recent court order relaxed the rules citing privacy concerns.