Essays Tagged "Newsday"
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Intended as a counterterrorism tool, it doesn't work and tramples on travelers' rights
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…
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…
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…
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.
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.