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New Delhi: The new norms for airlines to report detailed international passenger information to the customs authorities is meant to check smuggling and they strike a balance between need for privacy and security, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) said on Wednesday.

CBIC had on Monday notified a set of norms for routine collection of international passenger information from airlines for risk analysis. The norms included monetary penalty for defaults by airlines of at least 25,000 but not more than 50,000 for each act of non-compliance. Aircraft operators are also required to register with a designated officer for the purpose of information sharing.

CBIC said in a clarification that the norms were meant to provide a defined framework for collection of specified details relating to international passengers travelling by air.

“These regulations are meant to enhance detection, interdiction and investigative capabilities of Customs Authorities using non-intrusive techniques for combating offences related to smuggling of contraband such as narcotics, psychotropic substances, gold, arms and ammunition that directly impact national security. This mechanism is being widely used by border management agencies of several administrations," the tax authority said in the statement.

These regulations require airlines to transmit specified information electronically to the designated customs system. 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.

Data exchange between the airlines and the Customs Systems is through 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) and is widely used internationally, the statement said.

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.

The information collected is subject to strict information privacy and data protection and there are adequate legal and administrative safeguards built in, CBIC said.

Processing of the information to reveal ethnicity, race, religious or philosophical beliefs, health etc. is strictly prohibited, CBIC said.

Hardware and software necessary for data protection has already been envisaged and the information received is used for further processing only by a senior officer of the rank of Principal Additional Director General or Additional Director General, CBIC said.

In normal course, the data collected is stored only for five years after which it is disposed of by depersonalisation or anonymisation. The Regulations provide for an extensive and independent system audit and security audit to prevent misuse of the information.

“The regulations strike a good balance between the needs of privacy and the imperatives of security. CBIC is committed to work with all stakeholders to enable a smooth transition and implementation of these regulations," the tax authority stated. (ends)

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