New Delhi: Days after the government required airlines to provide detailed passenger information before arrival or departure of international flights, the Ministry of Finance on Wednesday clarified that the regulations are meant to enhance the detection, interdiction, and investigative capabilities of Customs Authorities.
The requirement of detailed information for each passenger has triggered privacy concerns and such a move may discourage some passengers from flying internationally.
”The Regulations strike a good balance between the needs of privacy and the imperatives of security. The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs is committed to working with all stakeholders to enable a smooth transition and implementation of these regulations,” the statement said.
”Passengers are not required to individually submit any information to Customs, neither do they need to furnish any additional information to the Airlines on account of these regulations. Airlines are already collecting this information under the aegis of the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation,” the statement said.
The ministry said the data exchange between the airlines and the customs systems is through the PNRGOV EDIFACT message format and this is a standard electronic message format endorsed jointly by the World Customs Organisation (WCO), International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
”Although some data elements included in the regulations are available from other sources, the objective of these regulations is to obtain this data in advance of departure or arrival of the passengers for analytics by the Customs Risk Management System,” it said.
The information collected is subject to strict information privacy and data protection and there are adequate legal and administrative safeguards built in.
”Processing of the information to reveal ethnicity, race, religious or philosophical beliefs, health, etc. is strictly prohibited. Hardware and software necessary for data protection have already been envisaged. The information received is used for further processing only by a senior officer of the rank of Principal Additional Director General/Additional Director General,” the statement said.