News and Opinion for Democrats Against Bush -- Part II
EFF Details Problems With CAPPS II
PT. II - HOME PAGE
PT. II - CONTENTS
BUSH and the MEDIA
CIVIL RIGHTS
-- Gay Rights
THE ECONOMY
-- The Real Deficit
---- Deficit Lies
-- International Debt
---- Children Will Pay
-- Tax Cut Con Game
---- Tax-Cut Lies
------ to Small Business
---- Phony Benefits
---- Hurting States
---- Why Accepted?
---- Cuts Will Backfire
-- Low-Tax Mania
-- Move toward Flat Tax
-- Corp. Tax Dodgers
-- Corporate Welfare
---- Halliburton
-- The SUV Boondoggle
-- Unemploym't Worse
------ Comp. Denied
---- Jobs Not Created
-- Widespread Poverty
-- False Recovery
-- Stock Market
EDUCATION
-- Texas Sch. Scandals
-- Broken Promises
-- Abandoned Youth
-- College Aid Cut
-- Aid to Rich Colleges
-- Textbooks Censored
-- Acad. Freedom Denied
ELECTRONIC VOTING -- --- A Crucial Issue
ENERGY
-- Monstrous Bill
---- Allows Blackouts
---- Bi-Part. Oppos'n
-- New Energy Bill
ENVIRONMENT
-- Bush's "Eco-Speak"
---- How to Tell Lies
-- Crimes v. Nature
---- Air Pollution
---- Global Warming
---- Ozone Depletion
---- Chemical Hazards
---- Loss of Wildlife
-- States Combat Bush
---- Power Plant Suits
-- Pension Funds, Too
LABOR ISSUES
-- Worker Safety
-- Real Jobless Stats
-- Overtime in Danger
--"Productivity"
PUBLIC HEALTH
-- Poor Ranking
-- Privatized Socialism
-- Health Insurance
---- The Uninsured
------ Middle Class
-- Cost of Drugs
-- Medicare
---- A Cynical Bill
---- Favoring HMOs
---- $$ to Drug Co.s
---- Bait and Switch
---- AARP Sells Out
---- Bullying to Win
---- Australian Critique
---- Some Good News
-- Chill on Research
TRANSPORTATION
-- Amtrak
-- Mars vs. Amtrak
WAR OF IDEAS
-- Use of Language
WAR on TERROR
--'Enemy Combatants'
-- Ultra-Secret Trials
-- Homeland Insecurity
---- Funds Miss Needs
WAR on CIVIL RIGHTS
-- FBI Prying Grows
---- Targeting Protests
------ & Anti-Bush Talk
-- Computer Privacy
-- Patriot Act
---- Excesses
------ Cure - SAFE Act
---- Dangers
---- Author's Fear
---- Librarians' Warning
--"Patriot Act II"
---- Death for Protest?
---- Sneak Enactments
-- CAPPS II
---- GAO Criticisms
---- EFF Concerns
-- Guantanamo
---- Conditions
---- Legal Status
---- UK Judge's Blast
-- Torture Condoned
---- Canadian's Ordeal
-- Yousef Yee
WAR on SCIENCE
-- Scientists Accuse
---- Admin. Can't Deny
WAR on WOMEN
-- Abortion Truths
-- Notorious Photo
WAR on WORKING FAMILIES

" The bottom line is that by treating each of us as a suspected criminal or terrorist, CAPPS II would rob us of our most fundamental rights as U.S. citizens without proof that it will make any of us any safer.  TSA should abandon CAPPS II and put our valuable security resources into programs that strike an appropriate balance between providing enhanced safety and protecting the freedoms central to American life. "
--Electronic Frontier Foundation             

Electronic Frontier Foundation
 

CAPPS II: Government Surveillance via Passenger Profiling

Why EFF Is Concerned About CAPPS II

For more information, read the complete statement at--  http://www.eff.org/Privacy/cappsii/concern.php

Excerpts--

The Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS II) would force you to surrender more of your privacy in order to travel by air -- with little, if any, increase in security.  If the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) succeeds in implementing CAPPS II, the many personal details about you that have been collected in both government and commercial databases would be an open book to travel authorities.  How much of your private life should the government be allowed to examine before you can exercise your right to travel freely?

CAPPS II could also misidentify you as a terrorist, criminal, or other security threat requiring heightened government scrutiny.  Personal details about you, correct or not, could repeatedly trip the security wire, yet there would be no effective way for you to access your own CAPPS II file to correct the mistake.  Meanwhile, airport personnel would squander valuable time and resources on you and other CAPPS II "false positives" rather than on real terrorists. 

Worst of all, CAPPS II could come to serve as an all-purpose dragnet.  Originally, CAPPS II was meant to serve as a tool to prevent foreign terrorists from boarding flights.  Then the government decided that it would also be used to profile "domestic terrorists," employing a fuzzy definition that could apply to legitimate political activists.  Then CAPPS II was once again expanded, this time to include screening for people wanted for violent crimes or for flouting immigration laws. 

All of this "mission creep" has taken place before CAPPS II has even been implemented.  How many more classes of people will CAPPS II target once it is installed and operational at airports across the country?  And how many other modes of travel will eventually fall under the CAPPS II purview?

How CAPPS II Would Work

  • Step One:  Collecting Personal Information About You ...
  • Step Two:  Checking Your Identity Against Government and Commercial Databases ...
  • .Step Three:  Secret Profiling & Color Coding ...

.....

Congress Gives CAPPS II a Failing Grade

Congress's investigatory arm, the General Accounting Office (GAO), reports that as of January 2004 the TSA has failed to meet seven out of eight Congressional requirements for CAPPS II.  Specifically, TSA has failed to:

  • adequately assess the accuracy of information in the databases that will be used for CAPPS II;
  • stress test the CAPPS II system and demonstrate its efficacy and accuracy;
  • install safeguards to protect CAPPS II from abuse;
  • install security measures to protect unauthorized access to travelers' personal data;
  • establish effective oversight of the system's use and operation;
  • address privacy concerns regarding CAPPS II; and
  • create redress procedures for passengers to correct erroneous information.

Thankfully, Congress does not intend to release funds for the system's implementation until TSA has satisfied the above criteria.  However, President Bush has made it clear that he believes these requirements to be merely advisory and, as such, will not serve to prevent TSA from proceeding with implementation as scheduled.  Hence, the fight over implementing CAPPS II is far from over. 

Coming Soon: The "Trusted Traveler" Program

In addition to CAPPS II, TSA is working on a "Trusted Traveler" program that would allow some people to opt out of airport security screening.  Under the program, travelers who submit to an extensive background check would, after paying a fee, receive an ID card allowing them to skip extra airport screenings. 

The danger here is obvious: if a terrorist discovers how to game the system and successfully register as a "trusted traveler," he can bypass otherwise unavoidable searches for bombs and weapons.  This leaves every passenger more, not less, vulnerable to a stealth attack. 

Apart from the problem of trading real security for the illusion thereof, "trusted traveler" ID cards could have a number of unsavory unintended consequences.  These include opening up a new market for identity theft, creating a de facto national ID card, and establishing a form of "class structure" based on the level of trust that the government affords a cardholder.  

The bottom line is that by treating each of us as a suspected criminal or terrorist, CAPPS II would rob us of our most fundamental rights as U.S. citizens without proof that it will make any of us any safer.  TSA should abandon CAPPS II and put our valuable security resources into programs that strike an appropriate balance between providing enhanced safety and protecting the freedoms central to American life. 

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