Secure Flight (Formerly CAPPS II)

Also in the wake of the September 11 attacks, the government has been addressing issues of airport security and is again very eager to implement a datamining program as a primary solution.

For this reason the government sank $100 million into revamping CAPPS II (Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System), a program originally established in 1998. This data-driven system would electronically absorbed every passenger reservation, authenticate the identity of each traveler and create their profile. Passengers would be required to provide identifying information like name and address, plus passport, Social Security and frequent flyer numbers when making their reservations. Those details would then be used by private data services (ChoicePoint was named as a potential source) to supply more information about passengers. The end result: each traveler would be assignment a Threat Assessment Color. In this system green means fly freely, yellow means extra security checks and red means not allowed to fly.

In Summer 2004, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) admitted to the Senate that they had tested CAPPS II and for this purpose had requested names and other data (possibly including credit card information, e-mail addresses and telephone numbers) of people who had flown Delta, Jet Blue, American, Continental and Frontier. The airlines handed the information over to TSA without resistance, although this was a direct violation of many of the companies own privacy acts (sound familiar?).

In July 2004, after the public learned of TSA's information gathering and secret testing , Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge responded to outrage by announcing that CAPPS II was dead.

Yet, as we have seen before, the program may not be dead at all; it just underwent a name change! In August 2004 TSA introduced a new program, Secure Flight. While Secure Flight looks like an improvement over CAPPS II (all passengers will not automatically undergo "pre-screening" but will have to first appear on a watchlist), there are lots of unanswered questions (like how an individual ends up on the list and how to clear a name if the list is inaccurate).

Related Matter


U.S. Trends:
Data Collection Explosion
Data Warehouses
Government-Business Connection
Operation Shamrock
Data Accuracy
Fair Information Practices
The MATRIX (Formerly TIA)
Secure Flight (Formerly CAPPS II)
Infragard, TIPS and Cat Eyes
The USA Patriot Act

Canada and Outside the U.S.