Friday, 8 December 2006

USA to continue targetting travellers

By a notice today in the Federal Register , the USA Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has resumed accepting public comments (search for docket 2006-0060, scroll through the list of documents on that docket to DHS-2006-0060-0062, and click on the “add comment” icon in the right-most column) on the Automated Targeting System (ATS), and has extended the deadline for comments from the public until 5 p.m. Washington, DC time on Friday, 29 December 2006.

Although today’s notice extends the comment period, it does not postpone the 4 December 2006 effective date of the original notice . Today’s notice is thus, at least in the interim, official notice of the denial of our request for termination of the ATS program and destruction of its illegal dossiers and risk scores on travellers. As noted in my comments to the DHS on behalf of the Identity Project , today’s notice thus may constitute a criminal violation of the Privacy Act on the part of the official who issued the notice, Hugo Teufel III, Chief Privacy Officer for the DHS.

The original notice said that, “The new system of records” (which the DHS has, contradictorily, claimed is not new and is already in use) “will be effective December 4, 2006, unless comments are received that result in a contrary determination.” Since no such “determination” was announced by 4 December 2006, or is included today’s notice, ATS apparently will remain in operation during the extended public comment period, in continuing violation of the law.

Giving the public more time to record their complaints, while the government continues to break the law, is not enough. Congress, the DHS Inspector General (to whom we have forwarded our comments), the GAO, the European Parliament, and the European Commission should take action without delay, and not wait for the charade of an extended period for the public to “comment” on an ongoing blatantly illegal government program. If you’re filing your own comments, demand that the DHS shut down the ATS and destroy the dossiers — now.

European Union citizens and residents can, and should, also demand your travel records and an accounting of what data has been given to the U.S. government, for what purposes. Since the ATS has been exempted from FOIA and the Privacy Act, only requests in other countries where the same airlines and reservation systems do business, under those countries’ data protection laws, will enable us to find out what’s really been going on — or bring it to a halt.

Link | Posted by Edward on Friday, 8 December 2006, 07:56 ( 7:56 AM)
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