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[] Zweifel am Ende von CAPPS II,
(hier auch mit weiteren links im Text, RB)

CAPPS-II to be renamed and/or merged into traveller registration program

Thursday, 15 July 2004

USA Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge has confirmed in an 
interview with USA Today that the CAPPS-II airline passenger profiling 
and monitoring system will be renamed and/or merged into a system of 
(pseudo-voluntary) registration of travellers.

USA Today headlined the story, "Plan to collect flier data canceled", 
which would be very good news if true. But the story itself makes clear 
that CAPPS-II, in a new guise, is far from dead:

Ridge said a new program with a different name might be developed 
to take the place of CAPPS II. But if enough people volunteer to provide 
personal information through a new "registered traveler" program, that 
alone could replace CAPPS II.

This is exactly the two-part strategy for salvaging the essential 
surveillance and profiling functionality of CAPPS-II, in the face of 
overwhelming public and Congressional opposition, that I've inferred 
>from previous DHS/TSA actions. The remarkable thing is that Ridge has 
made it explicit.

The name change is purely a ruse. Congress has forbidden any spending on 
CAPPS-II unless and until it can meet specified standards, as certified 
by the GAO. The GAO has said it isn't yet even close to meeting those 
criteria, and the TSA is probably realizing that it never will. But 
since the legislation is worded in terms of the program name, 
"CAPPS-II", rather than a description of its function, DHS/TSA can 
completely escape the current Congressional oversight, at the stroke of 
a pen, by renaming the program or including it in a program with another 
name. Presumably they will also respond to any continued criticism of 
CAPPS-II by saying, "But we aren't doing it any more", even if they are 
doing essentially "it" in another name. That's also what they are likely 
to tell the courts that are considering challenges to CAPPS-II .

The question is whether Congress and the public will let them get away 
with these ruses. Privacy advocates should call a spade a spade, and 
demand that any new computerized airline passenger screening system be 
conducted in the name of CAPPS-II and subjected to the tests that 
Congress has already enacted for CAPPS-II. And Congress should make sure 
that the next "homeland security" or aviation related legislation 
clarifies that the current limits on CAPPS-II apply to any system for 
screening airline passengers, by any name or as part of any other

In their current conception, the successors to CAPPS-II will be 
substantially broader. In order to register , would-be travellers will 
have to "consent" to give fingerprints, iris scans, addresses of 
everywhere they've lived for the last five years, etc. -- none of which 
were to have been required for CAPPS-II, and which will be subject to 
even less protection than data used for CAPPS-II.

The DHS and TSA still haven't said anything about most of the key 
privacy issues for the traveller registration program, as was pointed 
out in EPIC's comments on the "registered traveler" Privacy Act notice. 
Let's hope that with this scheme assuming functions formally allocated 
to CAPPS-II, more of these questions are asked, and answers demanded by 

Instead of a profiling system limited to air travellers, the DHS will 
use a multi-purpose profiling and screening system for which the first 
contract has just been awarded. It will probably be used first for 
applicants for the new Transportation Worker Identification Credential 
(TWIC), rather than registered travellers. But once the government has 
identifying information on registered travellers (or any other group of 
people), and a screening "black box", it's almost inevitable (and would 
violate no current law, at least in the USA) for travel registrations 
eventually to be fed through the "terrorist screening" system.

And the kicker is that this is "voluntary". Anyone who objects to having 
to register will be told that they have a choice -- if you don't want to 
register, you can always go through the second class unregistered 
screening line instead. Anyone who objects to the second-class treatment 
of unregistered travellers will be told that they have a choice: they 
can always register instead. Isn't the TSA generous: they will give us 
two different choices of how we want to surrender our civil liberties.

By controlling the allocation of screening staff between the 
"registered" and "unregistered" lanes, the TSA can impose exactly as 
much or as little delay and inconvenience as is necessary to induce 
travellers to register, and can implement the differential treatement of 
registered and unregistered travellers as gradually as it wishes. As 
first, I expect registered travellers will be given preferentially 
faster screening than the current default. As more people register, the 
registered screening lines will gradually slow down to the speed of the 
current default lines. Once registration becomes the "norm", increasing 
delays will begin to be imposed on the those who remain unregistered.

The replacement or repackaging of CAPPS-II as part of a larger and more 
intrusive system of general-purpose "screening" that treats everyone -- 
not just air travellers -- as suspected terrorists, and a traveller 
registration system that gives the government and travel companies even 
more detailed infomation, under fewer restrictions, than would have been 
required for CAPPS-II, is scarecely the "death of CAPPS-II". Nor is it 
anything close to the end of the threat CAPPS-II and its successors pose 
to our freedom to travel.

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