Tuesday, 17 February 2004
DHS spin doctors respond to GAO critique of CAPPS-II
DHS 'Fact' Sheet: CAPPS II at a Glance
(13 February 2004)
CAPPS II: 'Myths' and 'Facts' from the DHS
(13 February 2004)
TSA Video News Release on CAPPS-II:
Most of this recent propaganda is merely a misleading attempt at "spin doctoring", but some of it is simply false -- especially the video news release.
DHS Chief Privacy Officer Nuala O'Connor Kelly manages to fit four of the DHS's biggest lies about CAPPS-II into a single (no doubt carefully crafted) sentence of her one sound bite of the video news release -- a sound bite constructed entirely of out-and-out lies.
Speaking about the changes from the earlier CAPPS 2.0 to the current CAPPS 2.1 proposal , she says:
- "We've actually reduced the amount of information we're collecting,..."
In fact, one of the most significant changes from CAPPS 2.0 to CAPPS 2.1 was to increase the amount of data collected, by requiring airlines and travel agents to enter and pass on to the TSA additional information -- never previously required, and rarely if ever collected -- in each reservation.
- "...limited the ways that information will be used,..."
In fact, there are no limitations whatsover in the CAPPS-II Privacy Act notices, or any other publicly-disclosed government regulation or policy, limiting the ways that airlines, reservation services, or travel agencies -- to whom travellers will be required by government order to provide their personal information -- can use that information. They will remain free under USA law, as they are now, to use or sell that information commercially, or give it to any government agency, for any purpose, without asking permission from, or giving notice to, the people whose personal data is to be disclosed.
- "...and also reduced the length of time the information will be kept...."
In fact, neither are there any restrictions whatsoever in any current or proposed USA government rules on the lngth of time airlines, reservation services, and/or travel agencies are allowed to keep reservation records. Under the latest CAPPS-II proposals, they will remain free to retain them indefinitely, as lifetime travel history archives.
- "...We're also building systems where passengers can see their information and correct it if necessary."
In fact, as the GAO noted in its audit report, nothing in current USA laws or regulations, or the CAPPS-II proposals, would require airlines, reservation services, or travel agencies to show travellers their reservation records, or correct them. As the GAO also noted, it's not clear that the TSA or DHS would have the authority to order private compnaies to change reservation records, even if the TSA or DHS wanted to.