Friday, December 01, 2006

U.S. Government Rates Travelers

By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - Without their knowledge, millions of Americans and foreigners crossing U.S. borders in the past four years have been assigned scores generated by U.S. government computers rating the risk that the travelers are terrorists or criminals.

The travelers are not allowed to see or directly challenge these risk assessments, which the government intends to keep on file for 40 years.
The government calls the system critical to national security following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Some privacy advocates call it one of the most intrusive and risky schemes yet mounted in the name of anti-terrorism efforts.
Virtually every person entering and leaving the United States by air, sea or land is scored by the
Homeland Security Department's Automated Targeting System, or ATS. The scores are based on ATS' analysis of their travel records and other data, including items such as where they are from, how they paid for tickets, their motor vehicle records, past one-way travel, seating preference and what kind of meal they ordered.

The use of the program on travelers was quietly disclosed earlier this month when the department put a notice detailing ATS in the Federal Register, a fine-print compendium of federal rules. The few civil liberties lawyers who had heard of ATS and even some law enforcement officers said they had thought it was only used to screen cargo.

The Homeland Security Department called the program "one of the most advanced targeting systems in the world" and said the nation's ability to spot criminals and other security threats "would be critically impaired without access to this data."

But to David Sobel, a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group devoted to civil liberties in cyberspace: "It's probably the most invasive system the government has yet deployed in terms of the number of people affected."

Have no doubt people Big Brother is definitely watching! Is this a good or bad idea? What does everyone think? I don't have a problem with this program as long as it's only being used on international flights. If it were being used on domestic travelers, then I would take major issue with it. Security versus personal privacy is an issue with some extremely fine lines to try and navigate.

3 Comments:

Blogger Brad said...

I want to find out my score, dammit! I bet I'm a very serious threat, what with my crazy liberal blogging. Is it 2008 yet?

12/01/2006 11:15 PM  
Anonymous Joshua Xalpharis said...

Good thing homicidal people with a grudge against Americans all use accredited agencies.

Greyhound and American Airlines might cross-reference travelers...

What do you want to bet that Shank's Pony from Mexico doesn't give 2 shits about the ratings?

Unless their Israeli or Saudi. Then they don't need no stinkin' ratings. Visas either, apparently.

12/03/2006 11:35 AM  
Blogger Leo said...

Lol Brad. Yeah they probably have a pic. of you and everything! Joshua interesting comment, thanks.

12/03/2006 8:58 PM  

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