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Travel Privacy Controversial CAPPS II Passenger-Screening System
 

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HIPAA


Travel Privacy Controversial CAPPS II Passenger-Screening System

* EFF Privacy Coalition Presses Congress for Hearings on Travel Privacy Controversial Passenger-Screening System Fails Government Review

San Francisco, CA - In the wake of a government report that gives the controversial CAPPS II passenger-screening program a failing grade for protecting passenger privacy, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and a diverse coalition of advocacy groups on Tuesday asked the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to hold Congressional hearings on the threat posed to privacy and civil liberties by the government's collection and use of passengers' private information.

"The amount of data - potentially incorrect data - that the government is asking to access before permitting you to fly is simply astounding," said Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney at EFF. "Doing background checks on every American who chooses air travel doesn't seem like a logical way to keep bombs and weapons off of planes."

In its CAPPS II report issued late last week, the General Accounting Office (GAO) states that transportation authorities have failed to address Congress's concerns about the system's accuracy, effectiveness and impact on personal privacy. Further, the GAO shares EFF's concerns that the CAPPS II mission may "creep" beyond its original purpose of keeping terrorists from boarding flights and that there is no adequate redress for passengers mistakenly tagged as terrorists.

The request for hearings comes on the heels of the release last week of an open letter by a group of House Representatives asking President Bush to suspend plans to implement CAPPS II until a specific government policy is adopted that "makes clear the role of airlines in sharing consumer information with the federal government."

The groups joining EFF in the call for Congressional hearings on travel privacy are (in alphabetical order):

* American Civil Liberties Union * Americans for Tax Reform * Business Travel Coalition * Center for Democracy and Technology * Common Cause * Don't Spy on Us * Electronic Privacy Information Center * Free Congress Foundation * People for the American Way

For the full media release: <http://www.eff.org/Privacy/CAPPSII/20040218_eff_pr.php>

EFF Coalition letter asking for Congressional hearings on travel privacy: <http://www.eff.org/Privacy/CAPPSII/coalition_letter.php>

GAO report on CAPPS II: "Computer-Assisted Passenger Prescreening System Faces Significant Implementation Challenges": <http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04385.pdf>

Congressional letter to President Bush calling for the suspension of plans to implement CAPPS II: <http://www.eff.org/cgi/tiny?urlID=126> (House website)

Why EFF is Concerned About CAPPS II: <http://www.eff.org/Privacy/cappsii/concern.php>

More about CAPPS II: <http://www.eff.org/Privacy/cappsii/>

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* Update on CAPPS II Passenger Profiling: What's Going On?

EFF and other privacy advocacy groups are making headway in the battle to stop implementation of the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS II), but the fight is far from over. Below, we provide an update on the latest developments; we urge you to take a look and to join us in calling for Congressional hearings on CAPPS II and the current state of our travel privacy.

~ Congress Flunks CAPPS II for Protection of Passenger Privacy

Last week, Congress's investigatory arm, the General Accounting Office (GAO), issued a report giving CAPPS II failing grades in tests for privacy, security, effectiveness, accuracy, fairness, due process and accountability: <http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04385.pdf> Under an appropriations provision enacted late last year, passing these congressional tests is the precondition for funding CAPPS II on anything more than an experimental basis. Unfortunately, President Bush has made it clear that he believes these requirements to be merely advisory and, as such, will not serve to prevent the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) from proceeding with implementation as scheduled.

~ EFF and a Diverse Coalition of Advocacy Groups Call for Congressional Hearings

As noted in the media release above, EFF and a coalition of advocacy groups on Tuesday asked the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to hold hearings on CAPPS II and on all government use - or abuse - of air passenger records: <http://www.eff.org/Privacy/CAPPSII/coalition_letter.php>

~ House Representatives Ask President Bush, TSA to Suspend Plans to Implement CAPPS II

No fewer than 40 members of the House of Representatives last week voiced their concern about CAPPS II and passenger privacy in two public letters. In a letter sent to President Bush, a group of House Representatives asked that plans for its deployment be suspended until a specific government policy is adopted that "makes clear the role of airlines in sharing consumer information with the federal government": <http://www.eff.org/cgi/tiny?urlID=126> (House website)

In a second, more strongly worded letter sent to Acting TSA Administrator David Stone, another coalition of House Representatives cited the many unanswered questions about CAPPS II and asked that the program be "suspended indefinitely until these serious concerns are addressed": <http://www.house.gov/kucinich/action/letter.pdf>

~ Travel Industry Groups Doubt that the Government or Airlines Can Be Trusted with Passenger Data

Asked about the security of passenger data, the majority of corporate travel and purchasing managers surveyed by the Business Travel Coalition expressed grave concern about what one manager called "[The] sharing of data without permission, then the deceit that followed that sharing": <http://www.eff.org/cgi/tiny?urlID=128> (BTC)

The Association of Corporate Travel Executives has established a task force to advise TSA of its concerns about CAPPS II: <http://www.acte.org/initiatives/CAPPSII.shtml>

~ High-ranking TSA Official Resigns

Ben Bell has announced that he is resigning effective April 3. Bell has been director of TSA's Office of National Risk Assessment (ONRA), which was responsible for much of the design of CAPPS II: http://www.eff.org/cgi/tiny?urlID=129 (Washington Post; registration unfortunately required.)

Join EFF today in calling for hearings on CAPPS II and our travel privacy - your voice makes a difference: http://action.eff.org/action/index.asp?step=2&item=2854