Essays Tagged "Newsday"

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U.S. 'No-Fly' List Curtails Liberties

Intended as a counterterrorism tool, it doesn't work and tramples on travelers' rights

  • Bruce Schneier
  • Newsday
  • August 25, 2004

Imagine a list of suspected terrorists so dangerous that we can’t ever let them fly, yet so innocent that we can’t arrest them – even under the draconian provisions of the Patriot Act.

This is the federal government’s “no-fly” list. First circulated in the weeks after 9/11 as a counterterrorism tool, its details are shrouded in secrecy.

But, because the list is filled with inaccuracies and ambiguities, thousands of innocent, law-abiding Americans have been subjected to lengthy interrogations and invasive searches every time they fly, and sometimes forbidden to board airplanes…

Curb Electronic Surveillance Abuses

  • Bruce Schneier
  • Newsday
  • May 10, 2004

As technological monitoring grows more prevalent, court supervision is crucial

Years ago, surveillance meant trench-coated detectives following people down streets.

Today’s detectives are more likely to be sitting in front of a computer, and the surveillance is electronic. It’s cheaper, easier and safer. But it’s also much more prone to abuse. In the world of cheap and easy surveillance, a warrant provides citizens with vital security against a more powerful police.

Warrants are guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment and are required before the police can search your home or eavesdrop on your telephone calls. But what other forms of search and surveillance are covered by warrants is still unclear…

Fingerprinting Visitors Won't Offer Security

  • Bruce Schneier
  • Newsday
  • January 14, 2004

Imagine that you’re going on vacation to some exotic country.

You get your visa, plan your trip and take a long flight. How would you feel if, at the border, you were photographed and fingerprinted? How would you feel if your biometrics stayed in that country’s computers for years? If your fingerprints could be sent back to your home country? Would you feel welcomed by that country, or would you feel like a criminal?

This month the U.S. government began giving such treatment to an expected 23 million visitors to the United States. The US-VISIT program is designed to capture biometric information at our borders. Only citizens of 27 countries who don’t need a visa to enter the United States, mostly Europeans, are exempt. Currently all 115 international airports and 14 seaports are covered, and over the next three years this program will be expanded to cover at least 50 land crossings and also to screen foreigners exiting the country…

Terror Profiles by Computers Are Ineffective

  • Bruce Schneier
  • Newsday
  • October 21, 2003

In September 2002, JetBlue Airways secretly turned over data about 1.5 million of its passengers to a company called Torch Concepts, under contract with the Department of Defense.

Torch Concepts merged this data with Social Security numbers, home addresses, income levels and automobile records that it purchased from another company, Acxiom Corp. All this was to test an automatic profiling system to automatically give each person a terrorist threat ranking.

Many JetBlue customers feel angry and betrayed that their data was shared without their consent. JetBlue’s privacy policy clearly states that “the financial and personal information collected on this site is not shared with any third parties.” Several lawsuits against JetBlue are pending. CAPPS II is the new system designed to profile air passengers — a system that would eventually single out certain passengers for extra screening and other passengers who would not be permitted to fly. After this incident, Congress has delayed the entire CAPPS II air passenger profiling system pending further review…

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.