Thursday, 9 September 2004

Army says use of jetBlue reservations didn't violate Privacy Act

Wired News reporter Ryan Singel has posted a partially-censored copy he obtained under the Freedom of Information Act of the report of the U.S. Army Inspector General on the use of JetBlue Airways’ entire reservation archive by a Total Terrorism Information Awareness program military subcontractor.

The Inspector General’s office concludes that this didn’t violate the Privacy Act because data wasn’t “retrieved” by name or personal identifier. It’s not clear if that’s really true, given the secrecy about what happened: the appendices and documents allegedly supporting the conclusions in the report were, apparently, withheld from disclosure. But even if this sort of governmental privacy invasion and secret use of commercial data (in violation of the promises under which it was collected) is legal, the law needs to be changed. More importantly, the argument that no data was actually retrieved is specific to the particular experiments done by the Army contractor. Any actual operational use of such a “screening” system would have required data retrieval, and would have violated the Privacy Act.

Link | Posted by Edward on Thursday, 9 September 2004, 12:11 (12:11 PM)
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