This article was slashdotted today.
TSA had promised it would only use the limited information about passengers that it had obtained from airlines. Instead, the agency and its contractors compiled files on people using data from commercial brokers and then compared those files with the lists.
The GAO reported that about 100 million records were collected.
The 1974 Privacy Act requires the government to notify the public when it collects information about people. It must say who it’s gathering information about, what kinds of information, why it’s being collected and how the information is stored.
And to protect people from having misinformation about them in their files, the government must also disclose how they can access and correct the data it has collected.
Before it began testing Secure Flight, the TSA published notices in September and November saying that it would collect from airlines information about people who flew commercially in June 2004.
Instead, the agency actually took 43,000 names of passengers and used about 200,000 variations of those names – who turned out to be real people who may not have flown that month, the GAO said. A TSA contractor collected 100 million records on those names.
It brings up some serious concerns about how information collection and validation is done by the TSA for airline passengers. How can we trust governments to collect this much information about us just because we travel.
This week I wonder why care about airlines passengers because security is so tight that airlines do not seem to be a place where the next round of attacks will be. If London is any indication it will be on mass transit. Given the level of police/security presence on the transit systems in the Bay Area this week is certainly seems like there is some concern that mass transit will be attacked. They have started random searching of bags to get on the NYC subway. One wonders if they will start issuing ‘identity passes’ to get on such systems.
On the city subways, which are used by 4.5 million people on the average workday, the inspections started on a small scale Thursday afternoon and were expanded Friday.
The New York Civil Liberties Union opposed the searches, saying they violated the Fourth Amendment. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he hoped the NYCLU would recognize that the city had struck the right balance between security and protecting constitutional rights. He said the bag-checking program is part of a policy to “constantly change tactics” and “may, or may not, be there tomorrow.”