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The Knesset

Knesset lawmakers voted Monday (Sept. 19) to approve the first reading of a bill aimed at moving Israel towards joining the US visa waiver program.

“PNR data include broader information, which the airlines gather in the normal course of their business, for their own needs, and these data may vary from one airline to another in accordance with their operational needs,” the introduction to the bill reads.

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“This is unverified personal information voluntarily provided by passengers when they reserve a flight, and it includes, among other things: mobile telephone number, email address, payment means, address for sending invoice, travel dates, itinerary, information about baggage (number of bags, weight), and the passenger’s travel history.”

Under the bill, sponsored by the Justice Ministry, passenger data gathered by airlines during the reservation process are coded into a “Passenger Name Record” (PNR) that attaches to a passenger in a specific booking.

“The information will be transferred to the national center to be set up at the Israel Tax Authority,” the Justice Ministry said in a release.

It will “serve the state authorities in the fight against terrorism and serious crime, leading to improvement in the security of civil aviation, in border control and combating illegal immigration, and in safeguarding the health of the public against the spread of diseases.”

The collection of data provides reliable and immediate information about the passengers across different countries – and is a condition set by the United States for Israel’s entry into its
visa waiver program.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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