Monday, October 18, 2004


Be afraid. Be very afraid.

One of the most controversial proposals of the new Transportation Security Agency (TSA) has been a comprehensive database program called the Computer-Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS II). The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) describes the program as: "a controversial passenger profiling and surveillance system that would require you to give your birth date, home phone number, and home address before you can board a U.S. flight." The program, which had already spent almost $100 million, was killed by protests from privacy advocates, business travelers, and even Congress.

Now the TSA is planning to test a new system called 'Secure Flight'. They have ordered all domestic airlines to turn over passenger records. But there is more here than meets the eye. The 'Secure Flight' system is to be run by a private contractor. This bypasses some government oversight. The contractor in question is one Global Information Group Ltd. A Bahamas based company. A country that doesn't have those "cumbersome" privacy laws. Hired to run the project is none other that Ben H. Bell III, the former spook who designed CAPPS II. This is like deja vu all over again!

If this scares you, and it should, the TSA is soliciting public comments until October 25. Time to file yours now.


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