Israel is delaying the implementation of the PNR system

A system that will provide passenger data on incoming flights to Israel is urgently needed, but its establishment has been delayed for three years

Israel is delaying the implementation of the PNR system

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On April 27, 2016, the European Parliament and Council adopted a provision for Passenger Name Data (PNR) to prevent, detect, investigate, and prosecute terrorist offenses and serious crimes.

Israel Government Resolution No. 2258, from November 30, 2014, demanded the establishment of a database to collect personal information from airlines regarding passengers on incoming, outgoing, and transit flights in the State of Israel (PNR data). 

However, almost eight years later, such a system has not been established. On February 9, 2020, the government again decided to promote the issue (Resolution No. 4864), but that also did not help. As we have said.

The body entrusted with the data collection is the Tax Authority, through MANAT – the Passenger Information Unit (PIU). However, the Authority is delaying the issuance of a tender to establish the MANAT. 

About three years ago, Strauss Consultants was hired to write the tenders for establishing the centre and the system's components. However, as mentioned above, tenders have not yet been issued to the public.

Additionally, the legislative process was postponed until late last March. As a result, only on March 30, 2022, was a memorandum of legislation published by the Ministry of Justice for public comments, with a response time of April 20, 2022.

The Tax Authority claims, "We are currently writing the tenders for the selection of the entities which will operate the three components of the aviation database. These are complex tenders whose writing requires a considerable amount of time, and the tender procedure is thus far progressing according to plan. 

At the same time, we continue to push forward the legislative process on the matter, and at the end of April, the public comment phase will end, and the bill will be presented to the Knesset (The Parliament) plenum."  

Of course, they do not explain why the implementation of the government decision on such a critical security issue has been delayed for eight years, especially in countries with which Israel has bilateral visa waiver agreements, as in the case of the Emirates. 

The ISA does not know who is on flights arriving from Emirati airports (except for Israeli flights), finding out only when passengers arrive at Israeli passport control.

The proposed legislation states that two records will be created for each passenger-one when the ticket is purchased and the other when the passenger arrives at the airport. 

The difference between the two cases can be a matter of months. Such information is necessary for the ISA, which secures flights in Israel and handles spies, and the police, which handles international and local crime.

"One record, created during the ticket booking process (sometimes months before the flight). Includes many details needed to book the ticket, including the passenger's name, address, cell phone number, the credit card he will use to make payment, email address for sending the e-ticket, and more," the memo says.

"A second record is created when the passenger arrives at the airport when he checks in for the flight and presents his passport. The information contained in the passport is scanned and extracted. This information is more limited and includes the passenger's name, travel document number, country of citizenship, etc. These passenger details are attached to the flight details."

This mechanism exists in dozens of countries worldwide, including the US, most EU countries, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc. But not in Israel.

According to the law memorandum, the data should flow from the flight's country of origin to Israel within 48 hours before the flight's scheduled flight time. When the plane's doors are closed, all passenger data must be in Israel. Add to that the actual flight time. As mentioned, these are critical hours for the ISA and the police.

The legislative process is expected to be completed by the end of the summer. After receiving the public's comments by the end of April, a draft of the legislation must be formulated and put to the vote in the Knesset, which returns from recess in early May. Even if it goes smoothly, the legislative process may take several months.

At the same time, nothing is impeding the Tax Authority from issuing a tender and starting to move the operational process. Based on foreign companies, the process may take months to complete.

Stipulation of the tender procedure within the legislative process is not required. However, the State of Israel cannot remain without a PNR system while the entire Western world moves in that direction. Therefore, one way or another, there will be legislation.

One question remains open: why is the Tax Authority delaying a tender issue when it has already paid for its writing for the past three years?

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