Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

U.S. plan: Threat level for every flier ACLU objects, calls background checks unconstitutional

Friday, February 28, 2003 Posted: 1:55 PM EST (1855 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Civil liberties groups are objecting to a government plan for a new system that would check background information and assign a threat level to everyone who buys a ticket for a commercial flight.

This affects everyone in the world.

There already exists a Global Regulatory Information Database (GRID) which tracks potential criminals globally based on a variety of profiling techniques. It would be seem natural to expand this international database.

Recently, the US and Canada have created the Advance Passenger Information and Passenger Name Records (API/PNR) database on "high-risk travelers" traveling between US and Canada. The API/PNR system will in place Spring 2003. Citizens won't know how they get on this list so they won't know how to get off. You don't have to be a criminal to get on this list. You just have to fit the profile.

As the world starts to create blacklists based on various profiling techniques, the databases held by a variety of countries will contain data about citizens from other countries, who by default, have no rights Even if you have rights in your own country, this doesn't help you much when you find yourself at some airport in some other country on some blacklist for some reason which you have no access to.

I wonder if this blog post increases my "threat level"...


I think it will raise your threat level, yes. I'm writing this under a pseudonym. With recent stories about people being illegally detained, mistreated and deported by US Immigration, even if only on a connection to other countries, any citizen of France, Germany, or any Far-Eastern country unfortunately should avoid commenting on this sort of thing. As I have to travel frequently to the USA and Canada on business, I don't wish to be on any blacklist - though I suppose my passport will now raise a red flag anyway... :-(

Hey Joi. Times they are changin'. Writing this under a pseudonym as well (who would've guess). Sad but true: the current US administration is turning into a fascist autocracy. Look at the Patriot Act. CNN today published an article about a guy who got handcuffed and expelled from a NY mall just because he was wearing a T-shirt advocating "peace". Also read about 2 gay-guys from ACT UP California who got labelled "terrorist" and held under a $1 mio bail just because of activism and alleged phone calls to newspapers/governement. We never learn from the past: This is McCarthyism in the new millenium. OK I've been blacklisted!