Three weeks ago we officially lodged a complaint with the Austrian data protection authority against the Passenger Name Record directive - we reported on it earlier this year. After only three weeks, we have now received the response from the data protection authority: The complaint was rejected. That sounds negative at first, but in reality it is good news. Now we can and must file the complaint with the Federal Administrative Court within four weeks.
Why did the data protection authority reject the complaint?
The data protection authority has no authority to decide whether or not laws are constitutional. Moreover, the data protection authority cannot refer the matter to the European Court of Justice, which is necessary in this case because it is an EU directive. It was to be expected that the data protection authority would decide in this way, but the speed of the decision surprised us somewhat - and pleased us! The strategy of keeping the complaint concise and simple was a complete success. It was clear from the outset that the data protection authority would reject the complaint, but we cannot skip the step either. There is no other legal route to the Federal Administrative Court than via the data protection authority. Our seven proceedings (we have seven first complainants) were merged and we were given the power of representation. This means that we as epicenter.works are allowed to represent complainants ourselves. By the way, we have also compiled a step-by-step guide for you, with which you can lodge your own complaint (in German). It is very simple and completely risk-free!
What's the next step?
Meanwhile, we are still waiting for a FOIA request we sent to the Passenger Information Centre (PIU). While one request was answered by the same place within a few days, another one has been overdue since August 23rd, almost three weeks. The question, which was not answered, concerns data protection framework conditions for PNR implementation.
We will file the complaint with the Federal Administrative Court in due time. It is to be expected that the court will submit legal questions to the ECJ. We can encourage this, but these questions can also be changed by the judges. It is still difficult to estimate how long the proceedings at the ECJ will take. In any case, we will keep you informed.
If you want to know more about Passenger Name Record, we recommend our topic page, where you can find all the necessary information. We have also uploaded the entire complaint so that you can view it in full length as a PDF file (German)