Thursday, 13 September 2007
Public hearing in Washington on "Secure Flight"
An obscure notice buried in the Federal Register on 5 September 2007 announced a public meeting in Washington, DC, on Thursday, 20 September 2007, to hear comments on the Department of Homeland Security's "Secure Flight" scheme for additional control and monitoring of domestic air travel within the USA.
The current Secure Flight proposal was published in the Federal Register 23 August 2007. If you can't make it to Washington on Thursday, you can submit comments in writing on docket TSA-2007-28572 through Regulations.gov until 22 October 2007. *[Update: The deadline for comments has been extended until 21 November 2007.]
[Important update: At the hearing in Washington, the TSA announced that they will be migrating from one online docket system to another, in the middle of the comment period on this proposal, with several days during the transition when comments won't be accepted electonically through either system. According to the announcement at the meeting, comments will be accepted through dms.dot.gov until 27 September. From 28-31 September, no comments will be accepted electronically. After 22 October, comments will be accepted through Regulations.gov . The docket number in both systems will be the same, TSA-2007-28572. There have been either bugs in the Regulations.gov system or an error in how this docket was entered: Even though this is a proposed rule open for comments, it didin't show up if you search for it under "Proposed Rules" and "Dcouments Open For Comments". Instead, you have to choose "All Document Types" and "All Documents (open and closed for comments) from the menus. If you have trouble submitting your comments, the docket doesn't appear when you make the correct choices in the search menus, or comments you yhave submitted don't appear in the docket within a few days, I encourage you to (1) resubmit your comments by postal mail or fax and (2) phone and/or write the TSA and tell them to fix the comment system and extend the comment period.]
The Secure Flight proposal would apply to domestic flights the same requirements for government-issued travel credentials and individualized, explicit, prior, per-flight permission to travel ("clearance") as the DHS plans to apply to international flights under its "international Advanced Passenger Information System" (APIS) rules.
The international APIS rules (document USCBP-2005-0003-0059 in docket docket USCBP-2005-0003 at Regulations.gov ) were published as "final", effective 19 February 2008, with no further opportunity for public comment even on the changes from the original proposal. So the DHS can now evade debate on the similar elements of the Secure Flight proposal by claiming that it is needed to "harmonize" the domestic and international travel restrictions -- as though travel within the country was tantamount to, and subject to the same government restrictions and controls as, crossing international borders.
The Secure Flight proposal also includes new and odious requirements that travellers display their government-issued credentials not to government agents but to airline personnel (staff or contractors), whenever the DHS orders the airline to demand them. But since the orders to demand ID of particular would-be travellers will be given to the airline, in secret, and not to the traveller, travellers will have no way to verify whether airline (or contractor) demands for ID are actually based on government orders. And since the TSA's Privacy Officer refuses to say how travellers can verify the bona fides of people who demand ID in airports under purported government authority, or what redress they have when such demands are made under false pretenses -- even by people falsely claiming to be TSA employees -- the proposed Secure Flight rules would leave travellers hopelessly at the mercy of any identity thief who claims to be an airline contractor (subcontractor, sub-subcontractor, etc.) and demands, Your papers, please! anywhere in an airport. In addition, the proposed rules would leave the airlines "free" to keep all the information obtained from travellers under government coercion, even after they have passed it on to the government. They would be "free" to keep copies of your passport or travel ID as long as they like, use it, publish it, broadcast it, sell it, rent it, or pass it on to whomever they please, in the USA or anywhere else in the world. And they would have no obligation to get your permission for any of this, or even to tell you what they have done with the information the government has forced you to give them. Your personal data would continue to be considered, at least in the USA, solely their property, not yours.
I don't know if I'll be able to make it from Argentina . But if you can, come to Washington on Tuesday and let the Feds know what you think of this scheme to infringe your Constitutional and human right to travel around the country.
[Update: I'll be there myself along with other staff of the Identity Project, and I hope to see you there . The hearing will be open to the public, and you can sign up with the TSA staff on site to speak, for up to 5 minutes per person, on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday at the Grand Hyatt Washington, 1000 H Street, N.W., 2 blocks from Metro Center station.]
[Addendum: Trackbacks don't seem to be working, due to trackback spam, so send me an e-mail message if you want me to add a trackback link manually. There's a long discussion of this article at the Daily Kos and more from Stephen Cherry in the IEEE Spectrum Tech Talk blog .]
[Further addendum: One can only say so much in 5 minutes, but here's my prepared testimony for the hearing, the more detailed written comments of the Identity Project, and reports on my testimony and the rest of the hearing from The Register , Business Travel News , and Management.Travel . The TSA has posted a complete audio archive and a transcript of the hearing; the public and travel industry testimony begins on page 28 of the transcript and my testimony as the first public witness begins 27 minutes into the audio archive.]Link | Posted by Edward on Thursday, 13 September 2007, 18:08 ( 6:08 PM) | TrackBack (1)