The TSA seems to be rolling ahead with the horribly named “Secure Flight” program that will do nothing to protect us. As more evidence, I received the following email today on the IP list:
U.S. Airlines Must Supply Travel Records by Nov. 23, U.S. Says
2004-11-12 11:59 (New York)
By John Hughes
Nov. 12 (Bloomberg) – U.S. airlines were ordered to hand over records of all passengers who flew domestically in June so the government can test a new system aimed at keeping terrorists off airplanes. Carriers must comply by Nov. 23.The records of the 72 carriers including AMR Corp.'s
American Airlines and UAL Corp.’s United Airlines include names, addresses and itineraries, the Transportation Security Administration said in an order today. The agency will compare the passengers against government watchlists in a 30-day test of the program called Secure Flight, slated to begin next year.The program ``would identify passengers known or reasonably
suspected to be engaged in terrorist activity,” said the order signed by privacy officer Lisa Dean, and “prevent them from boarding a domestic flight.”The government plans to replace the existing screening
system since terrorists boarded four commercial jets in the Sept. 11 attacks that killed 2,749. The government dropped a planned earlier version called CAPPS II after privacy groups complained. Privacy advocates also asked the government to suspend the new version until more information on its workings can be disclosed.
Now, normally this wouldn’t bother me much, as I don’t fly all that much, but I did fly during the month of June, which causes me some concern, because this means that my information will be handed over to the TSA. Furthermore, I have no idea of knowing what information will be handed over. Figuring that trying something is better than doing nothing, I decided to give Continental a call at 1-800-We-Care-2, which is their customer service number.
At this point the lady began to get combative and said that there was no way that we could figure out what information the government has on us. I told her about our ability to FOIA our records and said that I was prepared to do that for the information obtained by the TSA. She said that if I wanted to get anywhere I would need to call the TSA about this. Their phone number is 1-866-289-9673. It seemed like this must be a frequent question because she quickly provided me with their email and postal address too.
It again asked how calling the TSA could get me information that Continental had not yet turned over to the federal government. She said that’s all she could say. Then she changed drastically and said that Continental had not received notice of what information they were required to turn over, which is a non-truth, as I’m sure they have. She also said that it was uncertain whether or not Continental was going to turn over information at all. Which was a direct contradiction of what she previously said. She also started talking about how she was a consumer and was concerned about this and how she thought there was nothing she could do. I told her that I was fighting back and that she should to. Alas, she seemed resigned to having big brother watch over her. After all, she works for the airline, so there is nothing she could do.
Moving on, I thanked the lady and picked up the phone to call the TSA. The operator on the line had a poor command of English and almost sounded like she was outsourced, but I don’t think that’s the case. I explained the situation of how I was concerned about secure flight. At first she thought that I wanted to report a security issue on a flight. No, I do not. I want to know what information the government is collecting on me. I tried again, using smaller words and she appeared to understand this time; or at the very least realized that this was outside her realm. She then asked that I leave my name and number and someone would call me back later. So I did, but I left my work number. If I don’t hear from someone by the end of the semester I’m gonna FOIA my records and see what fun they hold inside.
Fight the power! You should try this too! It’s a fun activity for a Saturday morning!