DHS Secretary says airline passenger privacy concerns overstated

[JURIST] US Department of Homeland Security [official website] Secretary Michael Chertoff has said that privacy concerns over the new Secure Flight passenger screening program [official website] are overstated. Speaking Tuesday with USA Today editors, he observed:

The average American gives information up to get a CVS [drugstore discount] card that is far more in-depth than TSA's going to be looking at... Would you rather give up your address and date of birth to a secure database and not be pulled aside and questioned, or would you rather not give it up and have an increased likelihood that you're going to be called out of line and someone's going to do a secondary search of your bag?
The DHS and TSA are looking to use the Secure Flight database as a replacement for CAPPS II [DHS factsheet], which was scrapped due to concerns - including some from the TSA itself - that is was too intrusive. The ACLU opposes Secure Flight [press release] as being ineffective, saying terrorists could easily foil the background checks it would require. Responding to Chertoff's comments, Timothy Sparapani, Legislative Counsel for the ACLU, said Wednesday:
His comparison of CVS to airline security is way off the mark - retail stores cannot stop Americans from traveling, or falsely identify them as suspected terrorists. And, recent scandals show that our most private information stored in central databases is subject to security breaches and theft by hackers.
USA Today has more, and offers an edited version of Chertoff's session with its editors.


 

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