Friday, 30 January 2004

Business Travel Coalition joins call for hearings on CAPPS-II and travel data privacy

Prompted by Jane Black’s column this week in Business Week (which in turn drew its recommendations from her interview with me last July and the agenda I’ve outlined here , here , here , here , and in my books , among other places), the Business Travel Coalition has launched a call for Congressional hearings on CAPPS-II and data privacy issues within the travel industry .

On its first day, the joint letter to the chairs of the USA House and Senate Transportation Committees has been signed by dozens of travel managers for corporations and organizations, travel consultants, travel agencies, and even some airline executives:

Personal travel information deserves the same level of Congressional scrutiny and debate that medical records and financial information policies were afforded in the past. We hope that you give serious consideration to exploring these important issues during hearings in the near future.

The BTC reportedly plans to collect signatures only through today, Friday, given the USA Department of Hoimeland Security’s stated intention to issue a (secret) security directive forcing airlines to start turning over PNRs for CAPPS-II testing as early as “next month”, i.e. Monday.

Travel executives who want to be seen as being on the side of their customers should make sure their names are included when the letter goes to Congress on Monday. Signatures are being collected today on the BTC Web site .

The only even partially dissenting view that the first report on the BTC campaign could find to “balance” the story came from David Stempler, whose purported “Passener Association” is actually an ill-concealed front for the Cendant Corp. , which runs Galileo — one of the big four computerized reservation systems (CRS’s) — and is already gearing up to profit from the additional data CAPPS-II will force travellers to hand over for their commercial use.

Also today, Statewatch reports from the UK on the latest European Union plans for their own counterparts of the CAPPS-II and US-VISIT programs .

It’s increasingly clear that what is at stake is nothing less than a global agenda of government and commercial surveillance and monitoring of travellers, leading to the creation of integrated dossiers of each person’s lifetime movements by public transport or across borders, enforced on the basis of specious claims of “aviation and border secuirty”, and automatically collected, without the knowledge or consent of travellers, through mandatory remotely-readable RFID travel documents.

Travellers and civil libertarians have to draw the line somewhere. CAPPS-II and the tragic absence of any legal privacy protection for travellers in the USA are a good place to start, followed by the ICAO, USA, and EU plans to mandate biometric RFID passports up for decision at ICAO’s March-April 2004 meetings.

Link | Posted by Edward on Friday, 30 January 2004, 07:43 ( 7:43 AM)
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