Special report to the Storting on PST’s unlawful collection and storage of information about airline passengers

Read the full special report

The EOS Committee strongly criticises the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) for having collected a large quantity of information about Norwegian citizens’ air travel. It is our opinion that the collection has been – and is – unlawful because PST has not had legal basis for it.

The EOS Committee wishes to bring the following four circumstances to the Storting’s attention:

* PST has continued its practice of collecting information about Norwegian airline passengers’ travel abroad, also after being criticised by the Committee in a concrete case in 2014 for not having legal authority for such collection.

* PST has unlawfully obtained access to large quantities of information about both Norwegian and foreign passengers on domestic and international flights through access to the booking system of the airline Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA. PST has not had legal authority for such access. This is information that PST would otherwise have required court authorisation to obtain in each case.

* Eight airlines have routinely submitted their passenger lists to PST. This routine submission concerned information about approximately one million passengers a year, several hundred thousand of whom were Norwegians. This routine collection of information is unlawful. The information has been stored for several months and has been available for searches.

* PST has not had sufficient internal control and documentation of its own collection activities.

In 2017, PST wrote to the Committee that the regulatory framework ‘probably does not’ authorise either access to the booking system or the routine submission of passenger lists. Instead of discontinuing the practice, the service adopted an internal procedure (submitted to the Committee in February 2019) in which it is stated that the service will continue to collect such information. In September 2019, PST stated to the Committee that the legal authority for the collection is unclear.

It is the Committee’ clear expectation that PST will discontinue a practice that the service itself believes does not comply with the regulatory framework.

The way in which PST has handled the matter has prompted stronger criticism from the Committee.

Read the full special report