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1/13/2004 12:32:00 AM | Dan

Monitoring Your Every Move

There's a commerical for SouthWest Airlines that I see on TV sometimes with the advertising caption, "You are now free to move around the country." Well I suppose this new Bush proposal pretty much would put an end to that....

The Washington Post is reporting the details of a new Transportation Security Administration program known as CAPPS II or Computer Assisted Passenger PreScreening Program. Under the new program, the airlines would be required to assign passengers a numerical color-coding (think the terror alert system except applied to you!)

A "red" rating means a passenger will be prohibited from boarding. "Yellow" indicates that a passenger will receive additional scrutiny at the checkpoint and a "green" rating paves the way for a standard trip through security.

My favorite part is that "Business travelers who typically pay high prices for their seats will likely get an easier pass through security in the 'registered traveler' program." (do you suppose there's any possibility of a terrorist buying or stealing a "registered traveler" identification?)

The scariest aspect of this program is the lack of limitations on the factors they use to code you. So far, the TSA is admitting they will use "travelers' full name, home address and telephone number, date of birth and travel itinerary. The information will be fed into large databases, such as Lexis-Nexis and Acxiom, that tap public records and commercial computer banks, such as shopping mailing lists, to verify that passengers are who they say they are."

I can think of numerous illegal ways this could be abused (gee, isn't it strange that the people who voted Democrat all are getting patted down?), but even the legal ways are somewhat disturbing. I know the old arguments - only people with something to hide should be concerned, but frankly this type of personal travel surveillance reminds me of the Soviet Union.



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