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Submit comments now for US Department of Transportation proposal for huge surveillance database

By jdp in Culture
Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 07:57:14 PM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)

Comments are due by Monday (Feb. 24) on the Department of Transportation's proposal for a "system of records" tracking massive amounts of information about every air traveler. The proposal is extremely broad and vague, and they are requesting exemption from the requirements of the Privacy Act -- so you would not be allowed to see what information is stored about you, or challenge incorrect information. Comments must be mailed (not faxed or e-mailed), so get them out quickly to ensure they arrive by Monday. PrivacyActivism has a page (http://www.privacyactivism.org/Item/63) with more information and a sample comment letter.

As PrivacyActivism points out,
Your comments matter! Several years ago, the FDIC's "Know your customer" proposal was withdrawn after receiving overwhelmingly negative comments -- over 200,000 comments were received with less than a dozen in support of the proposal. The overwhelming public outcry against TIA has led the Senate to defund the project for the time being. Please, send in your comments -- and be sure to mail them in plenty of time to get to Washington, D.C., by Monday.


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Related Links
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o http://www .privacyactivism.org/Item/63
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Submit comments now for US Department of Transportation proposal for huge surveillance database | 45 comments (41 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
I'm putting the stamp on my letter right now. (4.50 / 2) (#1)
by Edgy Loner on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 02:14:36 PM EST

What are you doing?

This is not my beautiful house.
This is not my beautiful knife.
Not living in the US (4.92 / 13) (#2)
by caek on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 02:28:37 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Just... (none / 0) (#35)
by SPYvSPY on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 01:51:34 PM EST

...living off the USA's teet, right?

By replying to this or any other comment in this thread, you assign an equal share of all worldwide copyright in such reply to each of the other readers of this site.
[ Parent ]

Ahh ,but it matters not... (none / 0) (#36)
by TheMgt on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 03:59:40 PM EST

If you live in the EU they've agreed to hand over all your US flight booking information to the US Department of Homeland Insecurity. So just remember to pay in cash and request a meal without pork.

[ Parent ]
Privacy Activism exaggerates. (3.50 / 2) (#3)
by aphrael on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 02:38:47 PM EST

It says: You would not be able to view information gathered about you, nor would you be allowed to amend or correct incorrect information in its description of the proposal. But the copy of the proposal which it links to specifies:
Record Access Procedures: Although the system is exempt from record access procedures pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a(k), U.S. citizens and Permanent Resident aliens may request access to records containing information they provided by sending a written request to the System Manager. In the case of air passengers, this data is contained in the passenger name record (PNR). The request must identify the system from which the individual is seeking records, and include a general description of the records sought, the requester's full name, current address and date and place of birth. The request must be signed and either notarized or submitted under penalty of perjury.

Contesting Record Procedures: U.S. Citizens or Permanent Resident Aliens who wish to contest, or seek amendment of, records containing information they provided, which is maintained in the system, should direct their written requests to the system manager listed above. Requests should clearly and concisely state what information is being contested, the reason(s) for contesting it, and the proposed amendment to the record. The request must also contain the requester's full name, current address and date and place of birth. The request must be signed and either notarized or submitted under penalty of perjury.

Some string that might have fewer than 50 chars (2.33 / 3) (#6)
by Trencher on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 03:12:53 PM EST

For some reason I can't put this in the subject line...

"notarized or submitted under penalty of perjury."

So, if you get the request document notarized, but lied in the document, they cannot penalize you?
Maybe the notary has the responsibility of checking your personal info before adding their stamp and I just missed it...

Bullshitscooptryingottellmethatmydamn48-charsubjecthastoomanycharsinitImeanWHATT HEFUCK!!!

"Arguing online is like the Special Olympics. It doesn't matter if you win or lose, you're still a retard." RWR
[ Parent ]
50 chars (none / 0) (#33)
by Tin-Man on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 12:20:35 PM EST

Maybe your quotes expanded to the """ entity...

[ Parent ]
Read carefully: it's not what you think (5.00 / 1) (#12)
by jdp on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 04:37:35 PM EST

Those procedures only relate to the "information they [the individual] provided". Most of the information stored in the system comes from other sources; the access/contesting procedures specifically excludes that.

[ Parent ]
Just reading that comment... (5.00 / 3) (#18)
by Gromit on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 06:29:04 AM EST

...I can't help but notice that those provisions only allow you to see and correct the information you provided, not other information they're tracking about you. Huge distinction there. So, for instance, if you have a name which is similar to a suspected terrorist, someone misfiles some information, and you find yourself getting serious hassle every time you fly, you can't request or contest that information, since you didn't provide it.

It also specifically grants access only to U.S. citizens and permanent resident aliens, not visiting foreign nationals or temporary (and legal) resident aliens, such as people studying at U.S. universities.

I'd say those two aspects alone call out the need to be covered by a privacy act that's been thoroughly worked out, rather than a couple of paragraphs thrown into the bill itself. It's almost certainly no coincidence that it is specifically exempted.

Caveat (again): The above is just on the basis of the paragraphs quoted in the parent comment.

"The noble art of losing face will one day save the human race." - Hans Blix

[ Parent ]
Comments must be mailed? (4.42 / 7) (#7)
by jabber on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 03:18:15 PM EST

This is a great way of weeding out knee-jerk and duplicate "special interest/grass roots campaign" comments, for one.

Secondly, it's a good way for the government to give the ailing Post Office a much needed shot in the arm. It wouldn't surprise me a bit to see the government propose ridiculous schemes they have no intention of carrying out, and asking for "mail only commentary" from the public. At $0.37 for each worthless opinion, the government could get itself out of the expected trillion dollar debt on the power of slashdot and kuro5hin alone.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Except the USPS can't make money (5.00 / 2) (#8)
by Edgy Loner on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 03:21:30 PM EST

Unless they have changed the law recently the Postal Service is legally required to be revenue neutral. It can't make money or lose money. That's the main reason why the stamp prices are so weird. They represent an average of what it actually costs to send a letter.

This is not my beautiful house.
This is not my beautiful knife.
[ Parent ]
Sure, but (5.00 / 1) (#10)
by jabber on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 03:47:35 PM EST

Of course they can't. That's a job for the Treasury Department. [rimshot]

Somebody has to pay for the mail-irradiation equipment, the Anthrax containment, the first response training for each facility, etc, and so on. These are all operating costs, and don't really scale with mail volume. By creating a mandated increase in mail volume, the per-letter cost goes down. If the per letter fee remains unchanged, more money comes in, and is used to pay for these improvements.

Sure, the government would have to pick up the tab of these things anyway, but this way is as good as any - and less likely to provoke the same ire that yet another penny increase in stamp costs, or some obscure tax increase would.

It's robbing Peter to pay Paul, to be sure, but since when do fuel prices go down again when an "expected shortage" does not materialize, or OPEC increases production? This seems like a similar tactic - increased revenue, one way or another.

Besides, I'm sure they have loop holes in the regulations, such that excess money is moved from one account into another, and thus is made to benefit someone who otherwise would not get it. The USPS depends quite heavily on the Dept of Transportation.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

yeah but... (5.00 / 2) (#9)
by /dev/trash on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 03:23:13 PM EST

Doesn't the Post Office say that for each letter it costs .001 more than the presnt cost of a stamp?

Updated 02/20/2004
New Site
[ Parent ]
They'll make it up in volume <n/t> (5.00 / 3) (#13)
by carbon on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 09:28:01 PM EST

Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
[ Parent ]
Warning (none / 0) (#44)
by Cro Magnon on Tue Feb 25, 2003 at 02:57:49 PM EST

When preparing your letter, don't eat powdered doughnuts! For some reason, that can freak people out.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
-1... (1.66 / 6) (#11)
by gordonjcp on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 04:31:19 PM EST

No comments, no ratings.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.

You just go a rating though (1.00 / 1) (#14)
by Eater on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 09:55:35 PM EST

And a comment... sort of.

[ Parent ]
It's a start... (5.00 / 1) (#22)
by gordonjcp on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 01:31:16 PM EST

... the "no comments" refers to the original author of the article having never posted a comment in k5.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.

[ Parent ]
I oppose this surveillance system. (1.66 / 6) (#16)
by thom2 on Wed Feb 19, 2003 at 11:39:16 PM EST

It does goes far too much overborard in tracking airline travelers, in hopes of maybe saving a few hundred lives from time to time. Furthermore, terrorists have by this point doubtless moved on to their next plan for causing mass casualties, one that will surely involve some means other than an airliner.

What is really needed in this country is a more effective way to document and track immigrants, as it is foreigners (like the 9/11 hijackers) who pose the largest terror to this country threat at this time. Science now makes available a number of safe and painless devices that can be imbedded in the skin and used as a means of tracking individuals. The tracking system can be equipped with an alarm that sounds when the device stops sending, so that law enforcement personnel can immediately react in case an ill-meanng individual attempts to remove his or her beacon.

We have the means, all we need is the will. One simple system (which in no way impedes the liberties of US citizens) can give us and our children a safer, saner, more secure homeland.

You scare me. [nt] (5.00 / 3) (#19)
by Gromit on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 06:31:01 AM EST

"The noble art of losing face will one day save the human race." - Hans Blix

[ Parent ]
Say goodbye to your tourism revenue (4.00 / 1) (#21)
by hatshepsut on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 12:51:57 PM EST

and all immigration. No one, and I mean NO ONE will want to visit or move to a country where they insist on tracking your every move via an implanted device.

I sincerely hope that you were trolling because the mere thought that someone might feel this is a good idea (assuming everyone is guilty, breach of privacy, etc.) is enough to scare the hell out of me.

If you mean only foreigners whom you feel represent the largest danger to the US, I would like to know how you intend to determine which foreigners pose a threat (the US shipped a Canadian woman back to India after she had to go through a US airport on her way home to Canada), or justify why everyone should have their privacy breached in this way. Hint: I don't think there is any justification for treating all non-US citizens as terrorists.

[ Parent ]

Other countries would force implants too. (none / 0) (#27)
by Argon on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 06:20:43 AM EST

I can see it now, a special anal implant for visiting US citizens.


[ Parent ]

implants... (none / 0) (#39)
by mikelist on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 11:24:35 PM EST

But that's outrageous, implants are for euros and thirdworldians. You gotta remember we're the ones fighting terrorism, and you can't intimidate our people with such an arrogant idea. Whoa, terrorism by implant, waddya think?

[ Parent ]
Exactly! (4.00 / 3) (#24)
by bjlhct on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 06:17:19 PM EST

Who cares about non-US citizens anyway? It's not like they ever do anything important. If the US could erect a giant wall around itself it would be for the better. Better yet, it should float in the sky, suspended by hot air balloons. Then it would be safe. Or better yet, the whole country could just be pushed up into low earth orbit. This is just the kind of big project that is needed to get the economy back on track.

I could not agree with you more.

[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]

Sounds good to me (none / 0) (#43)
by Dyolf Knip on Sun Feb 23, 2003 at 03:01:43 PM EST

But do let me know before they start on that so I can get out while the getting's good.

If you can't learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.

Dyolf Knip
[ Parent ]

Why only US citizens? (1.00 / 1) (#38)
by phliar on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 06:37:40 PM EST

The US Constitution makes it clear that individual liberties — as codified in the Bill Of Rights, for instance — are enjoyed by all persons; the right to vote etc. is enjoyed by US citizens.

Why are civil liberties forbidden to the huge numbers of people who are not US citizens and are not doing anything illegal? Would you be happy if on your next visit to (say) Germany they locked you up because you were reading The Anarchists' Cookbook on Lufthansa?

Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

German lockdown (none / 0) (#45)
by minra on Thu Feb 27, 2003 at 11:54:48 PM EST

You don't get locked-up in germany for reading certain texts, but for writing them.

It would be informative to K5 readers to read-up on who is sitting in jail, and for what thoughts they are being punished.

[ Parent ]

The other site (5.00 / 1) (#17)
by vile on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 03:01:20 AM EST

There is, additionally, more commentary over at the other site, as well. +1 section for the thought & thread following.

The money is in the treatment, not the cure.
How can you object to this? (2.83 / 6) (#23)
by gloin on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 02:21:01 PM EST

Don't you want to know if the guy sitting next to you reading his Koran and praying, on the flight from Los Angeles to Miami, is your enemy? You could, I suppose, assume that he is --- but isn't it better to know and not worry?

Sure I'd like to know, but... (5.00 / 1) (#29)
by matt2413 on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 10:24:41 AM EST

What happened to innocent until proven guilty?  Can the world be allowed to know if you have erectile disfunction?  That's certainly less private than wheather you're a suspected terrorist.


[ Parent ]

Frankly.... (5.00 / 8) (#30)
by Kintanon on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 10:29:57 AM EST

I don't give a flying fuck if the guy is Osama Bin Laden himself up to the point that he actually attempts to hi-jack the plane. Then I'll kill him, with a ball point pen. The point is that I have no need to know, and neither does anyone else, what his personal habits or reading material happen to be simply because he's a muslim. the VAST MAJORITY of muslims are completely peaceful, the small faction that isn't is not sufficient reason to abridge the rights of the rest.


[ Parent ]

Two-way problem. (none / 0) (#31)
by Perianwyr on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 11:08:25 AM EST

First off, is a man sitting next to you reading his Bible and praying equally worrisome? I do hope so- otherwise this is a rather offensive comment, don't you think? Second, how would you know anything about him? In practice, there is little comfort in the idea of Big Brother watching. He may watch, but you never know what it means or what he's doing.

[ Parent ]
my comment (3.66 / 3) (#25)
by gdanjo on Thu Feb 20, 2003 at 09:44:47 PM EST

Dear Sir/Madam,

I think keeping a centralised database of all air travellers gives hackers a single point of attack. You should use a P2P system, like Kazaa.

Co-incidently, my services as a programmer are available should you require them.

Thank you.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"

Electronic Submissions Accepted (5.00 / 1) (#26)
by schwong on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 02:02:05 AM EST

The site now says:
Update on Feb. 20: Electronic submissions will be accepted!
Online submissions: http://dmses.dot.gov/submit/dspSubmission.cfm
The Docket ID is OST-1996-1437
The Document Title is Privacy Act of 1974; Implementation
[...and a bunch more stuff...]

That way. . . (5.00 / 1) (#28)
by acceleriter on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 09:43:32 AM EST

. . . they can just import the names from the comment database into the no-fly table.

[ Parent ]
Did you click on the link? (none / 0) (#32)
by nstenz on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 11:52:30 AM EST

All fields are optional
What names? If you don't have to put one in, why bother?

[ Parent ]
Because they will be ignored (none / 0) (#34)
by sphealey on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 01:31:48 PM EST

What names? If you don't have to put one in, why bother?
Read the Justice Department's response to the comments received in the Microsoft anti-trust case. Basically any comment which was not in the "proper" form with the correct legal headings and legal jargon was dismissed as "non-serious". Ordinary citizens don't really get to comment on these types of issues unless they can afford a VERY expensive lobbyist, but appearances of allowing comments must be maintained.


[ Parent ]

All right! (none / 0) (#37)
by steveftoth on Fri Feb 21, 2003 at 06:15:50 PM EST

Now I don't have to remember stuff cause they will do it for me.

It's like having an auto-diary.  They could just post it on the internet and I would no longer have to go through the ardious process of posting it to k5!

With this and traffic light cameras, I'll never have to know anything again, just look it up on my iPaq.

You are worried about the DB? (none / 0) (#40)
by qua on Sat Feb 22, 2003 at 01:24:18 AM EST

How about this... brought to you by the makers of the government smart card

Wouldn't it be ironic (none / 0) (#41)
by buck on Sat Feb 22, 2003 at 12:55:57 PM EST

if the DOT decided to use open source software to implement this? Most k5ers heads would explode scanner-style with all the conflicting thoughts.
“You, on the other hand, just spew forth your mental phlegmwads all over the place and don't have the goddamned courtesy to throw us a tissue afterwards.” -- kitten
Unlikely (none / 0) (#42)
by Dyolf Knip on Sun Feb 23, 2003 at 02:59:44 PM EST

Open source is all about accountability and error checking. That is, if you make a mistake, everyone in the world can point it out to you and correct it themselves if need be. If the DoT is willing to keep the end product, the database, totally secret and let incorrect information ruin your ability to fly on a plane, why would they do something like make the methodology public? That would be, like, a halfway intelligent thing to do or something.

If you can't learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.

Dyolf Knip
[ Parent ]

Submit comments now for US Department of Transportation proposal for huge surveillance database | 45 comments (41 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
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