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Old 03-14-2003, 01:01 PM   #1
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Senate scrutinizes air travel database

Senate scrutinizes air travel database

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The U.S. Congress on Thursday took the first step toward curbing a government computer system that will perform intensive background checks on American citizens who are traveling by air.

Citing concerns about privacy, the Senate Commerce Committee voted to increase congressional oversight of a secretive data-mining and passenger-profiling system under development at the Transportation Security Administration. Delta Air Lines plans to begin testing the system at three airports this month.

"A system that seeks out information on every air traveler or anyone who poses a possible risk to U.S. security, and then uses that information to assign a possible threat score to each one, raises some very serious privacy questions," said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. "It's a matter of good public policy for the privacy and civil liberties implications of this program to be reported to Congress."

Few details have been made public about the Bush administration's airport security plans, which include a project called the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS). It's not clear whether the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) envisions a watch list subjecting suspected terrorists and criminals to heightened scrutiny--or a "no fly" list that prevents specific people from boarding a plane. TSA says that each air traveler will be rated as a red, yellow or green security risk.
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Old 03-14-2003, 01:22 PM   #2
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I was alerted to this issue a by the incredibly useful EFF Action Center which provides a simple way to stay on top of privacy issues such as this one and to easily make your voice heard with your elected representatives.

I encourage anyone who follows issues such as this one to join the free EFF Action Center site and also to consider donating to and becoming a member of EFF.

In one click I was able to make my voice heard!

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Dear [My Senators]:

I am writing to voice my support for the Data-Mining Moratorium Act of 2003, a bill that would freeze domestic data-mining initiatives like the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Total Information Awareness (TIA) project. TIA's data-mining aspects are a grave threat to our civil liberties and I strongly urge you to stop its development.

In addition to TIA, there are other government data-mining programs like the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System II (CAPPS II) which are equally problematic. There have been reports that "watch lists" connected to the existing CAPPS are harming innocent air travelers. I expect that technologies developed in TIA will be tested on the data that will be accessible through CAPPS II.

These data-mining programs raise serious legal issues, statutory and constitutional. Never has the question "who watches the watchers?" been more important. I urge you to support the Data-Mining Moratorium Act of 2003. Thank you for your time.
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Old 04-04-2003, 03:13 PM   #3
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Traveling? Take Big Brother Along

Traveling? Take Big Brother Along

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People from all corners hate the idea of the passenger-profiling system called Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening II program, better known as CAPPS II.

But CAPPS II is not travelers' biggest privacy threat, according to Edward Hasbrouck, a travel agent and author. CAPPS II is only one possible use -- and perhaps not the most invasive -- of the Transportation Security Administration's proposed Aviation Security Screening Records database.

He pointed out that travel industry databases contain a wealth of information, including but not limited to whom travelers have shared a room with, what movies they watched, what they ate, and even whether they are grumpy or easy to get along with.
I can just see dbaker's file now
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Old 04-05-2003, 01:31 AM   #4
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I've always felt that, if someone has nothing to hide, they wouldn't worry about their personal details being known. I would be quite willing for all my personal information (other than credit card, bank account, etc.) to be in a databank (maybe it already is) if that would make check-in easier.

If you've nothing to be ashamed of, what's the problem? If you've been a bad boy I understand why you'd be worried.
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Old 04-05-2003, 06:46 PM   #5
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Your right, except I wouldn't trust the government. Let me tell you a story. My father, who at the time was about 25, was staying with his friend back in the 60's. His friend was a communist. My father didn't know it at the time, but an undercover agent was stationed in my father's friends house spying on them. My father had nothing to do with his friend's communists views, he was simply staying there. When my dad checked his FBI report about 2 years ago, he saw that the agent had documented him as being part of that communist movement.

The problem is that people like the CIA, FBI etc... assume thing that are not true. This can be a problem for innocent people. Who will watch the watchers?
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Old 04-05-2003, 07:12 PM   #6
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I guess you have a valid point.

And, anyway, I had completely forgotten about that pack of chewing gum I forgot to pay for.
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