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Foes Assault Passenger Screening

Wired reports that privacy groups, business travelers and members of Congress asked the federal government this week to reconsider its plans to implement a passenger-profiling system because agencies have not adequately addressed privacy concerns or shown effectiveness in detecting potential terrorists.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California), joined by 25 other Democrats, sent President Bush a letter Wednesday asking his administration to protect passenger privacy. The group also proposed that airlines should tell passengers exactly what information they pass along as travelers make reservations.

Before the Computer-Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening Program (CAPPS II) is implemented, we urge the adoption of a specific policy that makes clear the role of airlines in sharing consumer information with the federal government.

Members of Congress and the public have no real assurances that the system will not rely upon medical, religious, political or racial data.

CAPPS II will require passengers to give more personal information when buying airline tickets, information that will then be checked against mammoth commercial databases, watch lists and warrants to screen for suspected terrorists and people wanted for violent crimes.

An ideologically diverse group of public-interest groups – including Common Cause, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Free Congress Foundation -joined the letter-writing campaign, asking Congress for hearings.

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