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Feds Undertaking Massive Passenger Profiling Plan

michael posted more than 12 years ago | from the somebody-set-up-us-the-bomb dept.

Privacy 677

Logic Bomb writes: "The Washington Post is running an overview of a rather big-brother-ish airline passenger screening system the government is proposing. Keeping track of people's ticket purchases is one thing, but correlating people's addresses and living arrangements...! This attempt seems closer to completion and implementation than any other that's been proposed so far."

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They should start here... (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936616)

Every last Linux user is a Terrorist.

Speaking about Terrorism... (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936621)

Just WHY are Al Jazeera so upset with CNN for broadcasting the Bin Laden interview? It was part of their contract that CNN could broadcast ANYTHING gathered by Al Jazeera, regardless of whether it was broadcast over there first.

Al Jazeera supports Al Qaeda. Look, they even have the same first name!

FP (-1, Offtopic)

coolcast (230847) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936622)

Did I do it, did it work??????? Am I a good troll now????

Better luck next time! (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936628)

But full points for logging in.

You are a brave warrior in the crusade against the anonymous "Axis of Evil"

Re:Better luck next time! (0)

coolcast (230847) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936635)

See you at the next article... :)

Re:FP (-1, Offtopic)

AssNose (551820) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936634)

No, it didn't.
Next time, actually get F1rst POst and include a link to additional information [goatse.cx] .

desperate times (0)

Terry Dignon (548614) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936623)

you cant blaim them..."desperate" times call for desperate measures, although these may be going too far...

Not really... (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936638)

It is only fair that individuals should relinquish their right to anonymity in times of national crisis.

q. Why are Anonymous Cowards like Muslims?
a. They all look the same, they stink, and all they can talk about is hatred.

Why don't the Feds... (5, Funny)

reemul (1554) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936625)

...just buy Doubleclick's database? Those bastards already have most everyone's data. If the gov't is going to collect data like that, they can at least have the decency to do it on the cheap and not add insult to injury by spending huge amounts of my tax money on it.


Re:Why don't the Feds... (2, Redundant)

CaptJay (126575) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936806)

...just buy Doubleclick's database?

Well that would mean the Feds would have to join TrustE to show that they care about your privacy...

Your papers, please! (2, Insightful)

Orangedog_on_crack (544931) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936627)

I hope this isn't the start of what could turn into an internal visa that will apply to all forms of mass transit.

Re:Your papers, please! (4, Insightful)

reemul (1554) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936771)

You're making the same mistake that the US media tends to make when reporting on this issue: tying two unrelated problems together. The government keeping and correlating more information about an individual, and requirements to show ID more often, are entirely separate topics despite how the press - and the civil liberties lobby, sadly - portray them. Every single place that takes a credit card could demand to see a driver's license starting today, without any new laws or any need for the government to gather more data. Or, the gov't could gather more data, without ever having a national ID or requiring anyone to identify themselves at any point. Two entirely distinct issues.

As an example, France. The French do have national ID papers, but as with most European nations, they strongly limit data gathering by statute. (Of course, given what an amazingly high percentage of the French population works for the gov't in one form or another, any belief that they don't actually go ahead and collect that data anyway is charmingly innocent, but that's another matter.)

Treating these issues as a unit weakens the arguments against them, to me at least. Most folks in the US don't mind the idea of a national ID card, or even a national driver's license. They'd be annoyed if they had to show it all the time, but the simple combination of the ID's into one system doesn't bother them. Most folks who move between states would be strongly in favor of not having to go through the grief of changing their DL to the new locale. And, sadly, most of the folks in the US are sheep as regards protecting their personal data, so that argument doesn't do much either. I know that the civil liberties folks hope to tie in the idea of gov't lackeys demanding ID checks in hopes of getting the public to get angry with the other issues, too, but I think it's working the other way. Since everyone sees all of these topics tied together, their favor or apathy for some of the issues is becoming favor or apathy for the whole set. Lets keep separate issues separate, and clearly show why each is separately a bad idea. Didn't we all favor suing M$ to get *them* to stop bundling?


So...? (3, Insightful)

jwilhelm (238084) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936630)

With a little accountability (i.e.: assurances that the data doesn't fall into the wrong hands or is abused) I really don't think this is a bad thing. Look at El Al in Israel -- they have massive amounts of data on passengers and participate in profiling unlike any other airline. Why? Because they HAVE to. After September 11th I feel like we have the same responsability.

Re:So...? (5, Insightful)

Amarok.Org (514102) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936651)

(i.e.: assurances that the data doesn't fall into the wrong hands or is abused)

Assurances from whom? The government? Trust us, we're from the government and we're here to help you. Not!

The often quoted (and probably inaccurate) statement attributed to Benjamin Franklin applies here : He that would trade liberty for security deserves and would receive neither.

It's all too easy to become complacent about trading away liberties until finally you have none. It's not that I think this particular issue is the end of the world, it's the principle of retaining and defending your right to privacy. All liberties must be defended vigorously, lest we allow the systematic elimination of them all.

Just my $.05 (inflation, you know).

Re:So...? (2, Insightful)

BCoates (512464) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936681)

Look at El Al in Israel

You're right, there are already dozens of perfectly nice police states around the world. I sure wish the paranoid would just move to one of them and be "safe", instead of trying to turn the US into one...

Benjamin Coates

Re:So...? (5, Insightful)

epsalon (518482) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936765)

As an Israeli citizen, I can tell you we are less a police state than what the US has become.
Yes we have national IDs and soldiers and security guards everywhere, but we have freedom of speech (at least to some extent). I can buy/rent a zone 1 DVD at any video store. I can publish code to decrypt DVDs without any limitation. I can practice cryptography [technion.ac.il] without being targeted. In Israel, the policial and social pressure groups rule and not the corporations. Here we have strict laws limiting campaign contributions.

Now, which country is more free?

Re:So...? (3, Interesting)

fluxrad (125130) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936689)

Look at El Al in Israel -- they have massive amounts of data on passengers and participate in profiling unlike any other airline

And we probably would to if a bunch of Canuks started border-jumping/bombing cafe's in Seattle.

Of course, maybe it's just my own idiosyncratic way, but I'm not a big fan of the government tracking all of my purchases. I pay taxes for them to go blow shit up when it needs blowing up, to make sure my roads are paved, and to spray magnesium chloride in Downtown denver just before it snows. I don't pay them to tell the guy driving the 747 what I had to eat yesterday.

Re:So...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2936696)

If we took their land and started building on it, what you expect them to do?

Re:So...? (2)

hrieke (126185) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936735)

Yes, and just this past week El Al screwed up big time by allowing a passenger board with a gun. The guy realized it when he got to New York and turned the weapon over to the Israel embassy.
I personally would rather have the ability to review all of my data that they collect and selectively block information, or even better delete it.
Having worked for on of the largest companies in the Data Mining sector for mass mailings / customer identification, I can say that the amount of data collect on you as a person is very very scary; they know just about everything about you and can build a profile quickly on millions of people - since all the records exisit - it is just a matter of sharing between the collectors.

alt sig:
Proudly keeping Slasdhot filld with spelling mistakes and pour grammer since 1900!

How will this help? (4, Insightful)

swordboy (472941) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936631)

As I understand it, several of the terrorists of 911 fame used their real names and were living here legitimately. They had no reason to use false id since there was no reason for the feds to look for them.

Spending money on whatever isn't going to bring about better security. It will just bring a better false sense of security.

Read the article. (3, Interesting)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936679)

The checks would be against perceived security "flags", and each passenger would be given a "threat assessment" score: for example, someone who purchased four tickets for four passengers on a single flight on the same credit card would have a higher threat rating than you or I would. Yes, before slashdroids go apeshit over this, we can assume a family going to Disneyworld would not be flagged, but four guys with more consonants than vowels in their name sitting in different parts of the plane probably would. And what the hell's wrong with that?

- A.P.

Re:Read the article. (2, Insightful)

MrFredBloggs (529276) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936707)

>And what the hell's wrong with that?

Due process?

what's wrong? (3, Insightful)

CptnHarlock (136449) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936718)

but four guys with more consonants than vowels in their name sitting in different parts of the plane probably would. And what the hell's wrong with that?
That's called racism, fool. That's what's wrong.

And what is SO BAD about Racism? (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936736)

Imagine how different things would have been if Rodney King had a white girl tied up in his boot which he was going to rape and murder.

Eternal Vigilence is the Price of Freedom.

tips to the ringbarer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2936770)

Get your head out of "the ring".

Which proves my point (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936789)

I have been judged in accordance with my "appearance", (a goatse.cx link in my signature, NOT part of the main article), which in itself is a form of racism.

Re:what's wrong? (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936812)


Is it racism to point out the simple fact that 20 out of 20 9-11 terrorists and the famed Shoe-Bomber were those fellas with more consonants than vowels?

Re:what's wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2936814)

It's this ignorant denial that has brought us this mess in the first place. Racism has it's place. Like it or not. Racism isn't wrong. It's disrespect is the problem.

Whenever there's a problem somewhere, it has to be solved. A problem that isn't actively solved, either goes away by itself, or more probably grows real ugly over time. If there is a problem, one has to look at it and analyze it.

Whenever someone analyzes a problem that has some racial aspect to it, people start screaming racism. That's not constructive. That's destructive, to civilisation and to democracy. The problematic people become more problematic. Doesn't matter if they're Al Quada, Black Panthers or the KKClan.

Instead of screaming racism, and running away, we should embrace it, and use it to create a better world. So long as we cannot do exactly that, differentiate and still have respect, we're not going to solve any problems.

-- AC for obvious reasons.

In Defense of Racial Profiling (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2936816)

"Racial profiling" has become one of the shibboleths of our time. Anyone who wants a public career in the United States must place himself on record as being against it. Thus, ex-senator John Ashcroft, on the eve of his confirmation hearings: "It's wrong, inappropriate, shouldn't be done." During the vice-presidential debate last October, moderator Bernard Shaw invited the candidates to imagine themselves black victims of racial profiling. Both made the required ritual protestations of outrage. Lieberman: "I have a few African-American friends who have gone through this horror, and you know, it makes me want to kind of hit the wall, because it is such an assault on their humanity and their citizenship." Cheney: "It's the sense of anger and frustration and rage that would go with knowing that the only reason you were stopped...was because of the color of your skin..." In the strange, rather depressing, pattern these things always follow nowadays, the American public has speedily swung into line behind the Pied Pipers: Gallup reports that 81 percent of the public disapproves of racial profiling.

All of which represents an extraordinary level of awareness of, and hostility to, and even passion against ("hit the wall...") a practice that, up to about five years ago, practically nobody had heard of. It is, in fact, instructive to begin by looking at the history of this shibboleth.

To people who follow politics, the term "racial profiling" probably first registered when Al Gore debated Bill Bradley at New York's Apollo Theatre in February 2000. Here is Bradley, speaking of the 1999 shooting of African immigrant Amadou Diallo by New York City police: "I...think it reflects...racial profiling that seeps into the mind of someone so that he sees a wallet in the hand of a white man as a wallet, but a wallet in the hand of a black man as a gun. And we -- we have to change that. I would issue an executive order that would eliminate racial profiling at the federal level."

Nobody was unkind enough to ask Sen. Bradley how an executive order would change what a policeman sees in a dark lobby in a dangerous neighborhood at night. Nor was anyone so tactless as to ask him about the case of LaTanya Haggerty, shot dead in June 1999 by a Chicago policewoman who mistook her cell phone for a handgun. The policewoman was, like Ms. Haggerty, black.

Al Gore, in that debate at the Apollo, did successfully, and famously, ambush Bradley by remarking that: "You know, racial profiling practically began in New Jersey, Senator Bradley." In true Clinton-Gore fashion, this is not true, but it is sort of true. "Racial profiling" the thing has been around for as long as police work, and is practiced everywhere. "Racial profiling" the term did indeed have its origins on the New Jersey Turnpike in the early 1990s. The reason for the prominence of this rather unappealing stretch of expressway in the history of the phenomenon is simple: The turnpike is the main conduit for the shipment of illegal drugs and other contraband to the great criminal marts of the Northeast.

The career of the term "racial profiling" seems to have begun in 1994, but did not really take off until April 1998, when two white New Jersey state troopers pulled over a van for speeding. As they approached the van from behind, it suddenly reversed towards them. The troopers fired eleven shots from their handguns, wounding three of the van's four occupants, who were all black or Hispanic. The troopers, James Kenna and John Hogan, subsequently became poster boys for the "racial profiling" lobbies, facing the same indignities, though so far with less serious consequences, as were endured by the Los Angeles policemen in the Rodney King case: endless investigations, double jeopardy, and so on.

And a shibboleth was born. News-media databases list only a scattering of instances of the term "racial profiling" from 1994 to 1998. In that latter year, the number hit double digits, and thereafter rose quickly into the hundreds and thousands. Now we all know about it, and we are, of course, all against it.

Well, not quite all. American courts -- including (see below) the U.S. Supreme Court -- are not against it. Jurisprudence on the matter is pretty clear: So long as race is only one factor in a generalized approach to the questioning of suspects, it may be considered. And of course, pace Candidate Cheney, it always is only one factor. I have been unable to locate any statistics on the point, but I feel sure that elderly black women are stopped by the police much less often than are young white men.

Even in the political sphere, where truth-telling and independent thinking on matters of race have long been liabilities, there are those who refuse to mouth the required pieties. Alan Keyes, when asked by Larry King if he would be angry with a police officer who pulled him over for being black, replied: "I was raised that everything I did represented my family, my race, and my country. I would be angry with the people giving me a bad reputation."

GOODBYE TO COMMON SENSE Practically all law-enforcement professionals believe in the need for racial profiling. In an article on the topic for The New York Times Magazine in June 1999, Jeffrey Goldberg interviewed Bernard Parks, chief of the Los Angeles Police Department. Parks, who is black, asked rhetorically of racial profiling: "Should we play the percentages?...It's common sense." Note that date, though. This was pretty much the latest time at which it was possible for a public official to speak truthfully about racial profiling. Law-enforcement professionals were learning the importance of keeping their thoughts to themselves. Four months before the Goldberg piece saw print, New Jersey state-police superintendent Carl Williams, in an interview, said that certain crimes were associated with certain ethnic groups, and that it was naïve to think that race was not an issue in policing -- both statements, of course, perfectly true. Supt. Williams was fired the same day by Gov. Christie Todd Whitman.

Like other race issues in the U.S., racial profiling is a "tadpole," with an enormous black head and a long but comparatively inconsequential brown, yellow, and red tail. While Hispanic, "Asian-American," and other lesser groups have taken up the "racial profiling" chant with gusto, the crux of the matter is the resentment that black Americans feel toward the attentions of white policemen. By far the largest number of Americans angry about racial profiling are law-abiding black people who feel that they are stopped and questioned because the police regard all black people with undue suspicion. They feel that they are the victims of a negative stereotype.

They are. Unfortunately, a negative stereotype can be correct, and even useful. I was surprised to find, when researching this article, that within the academic field of social psychology there is a large literature on stereotypes, and that much of it -- an entire school of thought -- holds that stereotypes are essential life tools. On the scientific evidence, the primary function of stereotypes is what researchers call "the reality function." That is, stereotypes are useful tools for dealing with the world. Confronted with a snake or a fawn, our immediate behavior is determined by generalized beliefs -- stereotypes -- about snakes and fawns. Stereotypes are, in fact, merely one aspect of the mind's ability to make generalizations, without which science and mathematics, not to mention, as the snake/fawn example shows, much of everyday life, would be impossible.

At some level, everybody knows this stuff, even the guardians of the "racial profiling" flame. Jesse Jackson famously, in 1993, confessed that: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery, then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." Here is Sandra Seegars of the Washington, D.C., Taxicab Commission:

Late at night, if I saw young black men dressed in a slovenly way, I wouldn't pick them up.... And during the day, I'd think twice about it.

Pressed to define "slovenly," Ms. Seegars elaborated thus: "A young black guy with his hat on backwards, shirttail hanging down longer than his coat, baggy pants down below his underwear, and unlaced tennis shoes." Now there's a stereotype for you! Ms. Seegars is, of course, black.

Law-enforcement officials are simply employing the same stereotypes as you, me, Jesse, and Sandra, but taking the opposite course of action. What we seek to avoid, they pursue. They do this for reasons of simple efficiency. A policeman who concentrates a disproportionate amount of his limited time and resources on young black men is going to uncover far more crimes -- and therefore be far more successful in his career -- than one who biases his attention toward, say, middle-aged Asian women. It is, as Chief Parks said, common sense.

Similarly with the tail of the tadpole -- racial-profiling issues that do not involve black people. China is known to have obtained a top-secret warhead design. Among those with clearance to work on that design are people from various kinds of national and racial background. Which ones should investigators concentrate on? The Swedes? The answer surely is: They should first check out anyone who has family or friends in China, who has made trips to China, or who has met with Chinese officials. This would include me, for example -- my father-in-law is an official of the Chinese Communist Party. Would I then have been "racially profiled"?

It is not very surprising to learn that the main fruit of the "racial profiling" hysteria has been a decline in the efficiency of police work. In Philadelphia, a federal court order now re quires police to fill out both sides of an 8½-by-11 sheet on every citizen contact. Law-enforcement agencies nationwide are engaged in similar statistics-gathering exercises, under pressure from federal lawmakers like U.S. Rep. John Conyers, who has announced that he will introduce a bill to force police agencies to keep detailed information about traffic stops. ("The struggle goes on," declared Rep. Conyers. The struggle that is going on, it sometimes seems, is a struggle to prevent our police forces from accomplishing any useful work at all.)

The mountain of statistics that is being brought forth by all this panic does not, on the evidence so far, seem likely to shed much light on what is happening. The numbers have a way of leading off into infinite regresses of uncertainty. The city of San Jose, Calif., for example, discovered that, yes, the percentage of blacks being stopped was higher than their representation in the city's population. Ah, but patrol cars were computer-assigned to high-crime districts, which are mainly inhabited by minorities. So that over-representation might actually be an under-representation! But then, minorities have fewer cars....

Notwithstanding the extreme difficulty of finding out what is actually happening, we can at least seek some moral and philosophical grounds on which to take a stand either for or against racial profiling. I am going to take it as a given that most readers of this article will be of a conservative inclination, and shall offer only those arguments likely to appeal to persons so inclined. If you seek arguments of other kinds, they are not hard to find -- just pick up your newspaper or turn on your TV.

Of arguments against racial profiling, probably the ones most persuasive to a conservative are the ones from libertarianism. Many of the stop-and-search cases that brought this matter into the headlines were part of the so-called war on drugs. The police procedures behind them were ratified by court decisions of the 1980s, themselves mostly responding to the rising tide of illegal narcotics. In U.S. vs. Montoya De Hernandez (1985) for example, Chief Justice Rehnquist validated the detention of a suspected "balloon swallowing" drug courier until the material had passed through her system, by noting previous invasions upheld by the Court:

[F]irst class mail may be opened without a warrant on less than probable cause.... Automotive travellers may be stopped...near the border without individualized suspicion even if the stop is based largely on ethnicity...
(My italics.) The Chief Justice further noted that these incursions are in response to "the veritable national crisis in law enforcement caused by smuggling of illegal narcotics."

Many on the political Right feel that the war on drugs is at best misguided, at worst a moral and constitutional disaster. Yet it is naïve to imagine that the "racial profiling" hubbub would go away, or even much diminish, if all state and federal drug laws were repealed tomorrow. Black and Hispanic Americans would still be committing crimes at rates higher than citizens of other races. The differential criminality of various ethnic groups is not only, or even mainly, located in drug crimes. In 1997, for example, blacks, who are 13 percent of the U.S. population, comprised 35 percent of those arrested for embezzlement. (It is not generally appreciated that black Americans commit higher levels not only of "street crime," but also of white-collar crime.)

Even without the drug war, diligent police officers would still, therefore, be correct to regard black and Hispanic citizens -- other factors duly considered -- as more likely to be breaking the law. The Chinese government would still be trying to recruit spies exclusively from among Chinese-born Americans. (The Chinese Communist Party is, in this respect, the keenest "racial profiler" of all.) The Amadou Diallo case -- the police were looking for a rapist -- would still have happened.

The best non-libertarian argument against racial profiling is the one from equality before the law. This has been most cogently presented by Prof. Randall Kennedy of Harvard. Kennedy concedes most of the points I have made. Yes, he says:

Statistics abundantly confirm that African Americans -- and particularly young black men -- commit a dramatically disproportionate share of street crime in the United States. This is a sociological fact, not a figment of the media's (or the police's) racist imagination. In recent years, for example, victims of crime report blacks as the perpetrators in around 25 per cent of the violent crimes suffered, although blacks constitute only about twelve percent of the nation's population.

And yes, says Prof. Kennedy, outlawing racial profiling will reduce the efficiency of police work. Nonetheless, for constitutional and moral reasons we should outlaw the practice. If this places extra burdens on law enforcement, well, "racial equality, like all good things in life, costs something; it does not come for free."

There are two problems with this. The first is that Kennedy has minimized the black-white difference in criminality, and therefore that "cost." I don't know where his 25 percent comes from, or what "recent years" means, but I do know that in Department of Justice figures for 1997, victims report 60 percent of robberies as having been committed by black persons. In that same year, a black American was eight times more likely than a non-black to commit homicide -- and "non-black" here includes Hispanics, not broken out separately in these figures. A racial-profiling ban, under which police officers were required to stop and question suspects in precise proportion to their demographic representation (in what? the precinct population? the state population? the national population?), would lead to massive inefficiencies in police work. Which is to say, massive declines in the apprehension of criminals.

The other problem is with the special status that Prof. Kennedy accords to race. Kennedy: "Racial distinctions are and should be different from other lines of social stratification." Thus, if it can be shown, as it surely can, that state troopers stop young people more than old people, relative to young people's numerical representation on the road being patrolled, that is of no consequence. If they stop black people more than white people, on the same criterion, that is of large consequence. This, in spite of the fact that the categories "age" and "race" are both rather fuzzy (define "young") and are both useful predictors of criminality. In spite of the fact, too, that the principle of equality before the law does not, and up to now has never been thought to, guarantee equal outcomes for any law-enforcement process, only that a citizen who has come under reasonable suspicion will be treated fairly.

It is on this special status accorded to race that, I believe, we have gone most seriously astray. I am willing, in fact, to say much more than this: In the matter of race, I think the Anglo-Saxon world has taken leave of its senses. The campaign to ban racial profiling is, as I see it, a part of that large, broad-fronted assault on common sense that our over-educated, over-lawyered society has been enduring for some forty years now, and whose roots are in a fanatical egalitarianism, a grim determination not to face up to the realities of group differences, a theological attachment to the doctrine that the sole and sufficient explanation for all such differences is "racism" -- which is to say, the malice and cruelty of white people -- and a nursed and petted guilt towards the behavior of our ancestors.

At present, Americans are drifting away from the concept of belonging to a single nation. I do not think this drift will be arrested until we can shed the idea that deference to the sensitivities of racial minorities -- however overwrought those sensitivities may be, however over-stimulated by unscrupulous mountebanks, however disconnected from reality -- trumps every other consideration, including even the maintenance of social order. To shed that idea, we must confront our national hysteria about race, which causes large numbers of otherwise sane people to believe that the hearts of their fellow citizens are filled with malice towards them. So long as we continue to pander to that poisonous, preposterous belief, we shall only wander off deeper into a wilderness of division, mistrust, and institutionalized rancor -- that wilderness, the most freshly painted signpost to which bears the legend RACIAL PROFILING.

I have a right not to be treated as a criminal (5, Insightful)

ChristTrekker (91442) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936764)

"Innocent until proven guilty."

If every citizen has to submit to procedures that basically say, "We suspect you of being a criminal/terrorist threat," what happens to our rights? Until I do something that causes me to be accused of something, I should not have to submit to these invasions of my privacy. National defense should consist of looking outward at threatening groups, not inward at individual citizens. Our borders are like seives, close 'em up. We have no real defense against missiles (MAD is not true defense), build some interceptors. There's no reason for a nation to treat its people like criminals without cause.

Re:Read the article. (-1)

Genghis Troll (158585) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936772)

four guys with more consonants than vowels in their name sitting in different parts of the plane probably would

Luckily, George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and John Ashcroft aren't allowed to fly together.

Re:Read the article. (2)

gorilla (36491) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936794)

So it would have caught Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols?

Anyone who thinks that terrorism is only going to be conducted by people of Arabic descent, or people of Arabic descent are likely to be terrorists is a fool.

Re:How will this help? (3, Insightful)

galen22198 (550221) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936715)

"Spending money on whatever isn't going to bring about better security. It will just bring a better false sense of security." That's an interesting way to look at it. Using that logic, spending more money to hire more police officers wouldn't lower crime. Note that EL AL has spent a great deal of money on security and, even as they are probably the most targeted airline in the world, has never been successfully attacked. In the case of the 911 terrorists, the type of data mining system proposed would have flagged the patterns of residency of these murderers (several inhabited the same apts. at different times) and the method of purchase (in at least one case, one terrorist purchased tickets for others). Furthermore, the fact that these terrorists were here legitimately, some through student visas (for language schools) doesn not neccessarily mean that the proposed data mining system wouldn't have noticed them. The threat index would be determined by an aggragate of information -- not just one thing. So, combining the terrorists odd residency relationships, student visas, and purchasing patterns, this proposed system would have caught them. Of course, one problem with this approach is that these terrorists like to change their MO, so that the next attack won't be like the last. However, since the proposed system is a neural network, more conditions/rules can be added as time goes on and more data regarding terrorist patterns is collected. Clearly, money, time, and effort do matter in solving problems. Its true in this case just as in almost everything else in life. While there is no silver bullet for terrorism, the proposed system is clearly an improvement over the current hodgepodge of uncoordinated systems. Regards.

Re:How will this help? (1)

bwalling (195998) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936720)

Read the article.

even the IRS does a lousy job profiling deadbeats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2936731)

The IRS uses the Taxpayer Compliance Monitoring Program to develop profiles of tax evaders. Basically, they draw your name out of a hat, give you a life audit to back when you were a paperboy in grade school, and in general pry into every aspect of your life. Takes about 6 months, costs you about $3000 in accounting and legal fees.

And after all that, the IRS still does a shitty job of policing the tax code. They figure there's about 10 million who just don't file, don't pay, and work off the books.

So how's this gunna work?

What privacy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2936632)

you should have no expectation of privacy when you goto an airport and board a plane.

you never had it to begin with.

get over it.

Re:What privacy? (3, Informative)

HuskyDog (143220) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936645)

1) Yes, I have an expectation that the authorities will have access to my name and address, but not a list of what restaurants I eat at and what magazines I subscribe to.

2) I don't subscribe to the widely held view that all arguments are automatically won by the first party to say "get over it".

Ben Franklin (?) quote (1, Redundant)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936633)

Those who would trade liberty for security will lose both, and deserve neither.

It was Jefferson Airplane actually (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936662)

But we hardly expect anyone who blindly quotes irrelevant catchphrases to do their research.

Would Jefferson have said it if some filthy arab had dropped a plane on HIS house?

Probably not, as planes hadn't been invented back then, but that's irrelevant.

What matters is that extreme times call for extreme measures, and blood MUST be repaid in blood.

The war has started. And I'm not talking about the little 'skirmish against terrorism' that's popping off now, I mean the BIG war.

Freedom against Oppression. Remember, no matter how much you despise the "Evil US", you at least have the right to express that opinion. Imagine if you were under a strict Sharia state. Imagine what they would do to your mother/sister/girlfriend...

She would be treated with the same respect as cattle. Think of that the next time you jack off to porn.

Re:It was Jefferson Airplane actually (1)

MrHat (102062) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936732)

What matters is that extreme times call for extreme measures, and blood MUST be repaid in blood. "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind" - Sir Mix-a-Lot featuring Heavy D (MrHat tries to hold back maniacal laughter)

I reserve the right to ignore that quote... (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936774)

It is my right to pick and choose what I want to listen to, and the ideas and thoughts that I subscribe to.

If I were to say "I refuse to listen to 'Sir Mix-a-Lot' because he's black", then I am FULLY WITHIN MY RIGHTS to do so. It might be an unpopular opinion, and deemed "Politically Incorrect" by the intelligensia, but I would fully expect EVERY ONE of my fellow men to fight to defend my right to say it. As I would fight for THEIR right to disagree with me.

Freedom has been eradicated for DECADES, and it didn't start with some faceless government edict. It started with the invention of the suffix "-ism".

Racism. Sexism. Theologism. All accusations that if used against a person, can destroy their lives in a manner not dissimilar to the Salem Witch Trials.

Yet somehow, it's OK to rally against the "Evil Government" and accuse THEM of wanting to control us, when the guilt-ridden white middle classes seem to be doing a good enough job of restricting society by themselves.

Re:Ben Franklin (?) quote (1)

MrHat (102062) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936701)

Instead of posting this to every YRO article, can we just put it in a Slashbox?

+5 Insightful (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936717)

One of my rare "agreeing with the sensible users" posts here. That quote sickens me, as white middle class children who hate EVERYTHING ELSE the US stands for turn around and quote it like some kind of mantra.

When in fact their only brush with totalitarianism has been when they've got busted for smoking pot like the ineffectual hippies they are.

"Never Trust a Hippie" - Jello Biafra

Now THAT'S a quote to remember.

Re:Ben Franklin (?) quote (0, Funny)

Genghis Troll (158585) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936737)

When are they gonna add this "quote" to the fucking lameness filter?

Re:Ben Franklin (?) quote (2, Insightful)

quarkstud (202707) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936751)

This quote was accurate when it was made in the 1700's (1600's?) but doesn't hold water now.

Franklin or whoever made it never had to worry about the murder of thousands (millions for a nuke) of his fellow citizens instantaneously by a handful of insane militants. The technology just wasn't there or even conceived of at the time.

I suspect the person making the quote might have a different view in the current circumstances.

Re:Ben Franklin (?) quote (2, Insightful)

Amarok.Org (514102) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936796)

I suspect the person making the quote might have a different view in the current circumstances.

*I* suspect you're wrong, though the argument is wholly academic since whoever it was isn't around to clarify.

Let's suppose for a moment that you're correct, and this type of threat was not accounted for in the thought process behind our style of government and protection of liberties. Fine, change the style of government through the methods established in the Constitution. The way to do it is to abolish the Constitution and write a new one, removing those pesky liberties and protection of rights. If you can make it happen, more power to you. Those methods were introduced for just such a scenario - when this style of government has outlived it's usefulness, replace it with something that is more suitable to the current environment. Until that happens, however, I'll continue suppporting what we have because *I* think the strengths outweigh the flaws.

Systematically instituting unconstitutional liberty violations and passing more and more restrictive laws is *not* the right way to bring about change. It's a cowards method.

Re:Ben Franklin (?) quote (1)

james(honest) (452503) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936801)

This doesnt apply now. Its not like he ever had to deal with a well organised, well trained, tyranical organisation from across the atlantic that was bent on removing his civil liberties and replacing them with their own idea of correct moral and social values.

Holy Shit!!!! (2, Redundant)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936636)

The government knows where I live?!?! This is an egregious assault on my rights!!!

- A.P.

Re:Holy Shit!!!! (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936777)

That's what you get for paying taxes. You draw attention to yourself right there. Don't even think about what they'll know about you if you actually go out ant vote.

Oh, and move the milk carton aside, it's in the way of our camera.

Re:Holy Shit!!!! (0)

putaro (235078) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936783)

Laugh if you like. Here in Japan you are required to register with the government whenever you move. I think Germany is the same. When was the last time you registered with the gov't when moving inside the US?

The Liberal Democratic Free Flagship of the World (1)

jsmyth (517568) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936637)

The Liberal Democratic Free Flagship of the World is now sinking. Although the legal structure of the US was founded on liberal ideas, and the legend of the "Free World" has existed for hundreds of years now... it's very visibly going under.

I don't want to think of the largest technological and military force in the world becoming as rigid and controlling as some of the dictatorships in Central America or Africa, with the difference being it's not an oligarchy, more a distributed dictatorship. Feds, NSA, President, Congress, each section looking for more control and giving less liberty.

There was once a dream of a free people and a small government. It's fading...

Where is all the data coming from? (1)

jibster (223164) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936639)

>>Theoretically, the system could be calibrated to watch for people with links to restaurants or other places thought to be favored by terrorist cells

Where exactly do they intend on getting this kind of data. This makes it sound like it would be just as simple to look for the suspects by the name on their ticket only.

Whats the use of that, and how is it different from the background checks that the airlines already run?

Re:Where is all the data coming from? (1)

danro (544913) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936716)

It's getting harder all the time not leaving any traces of what you do.
I havent been to the US (it is probably similar), but in Europe the methods they can use include tracing your creditcard. (that would be the restaurant, and if you travel to a new city you would probably use a ATM sooner or later. They know where you are...)
GSM phones can be located (roughly) if needed by checking the logs on telecommunication servers.

For now this is (at least here) only used in criminal investigations. But if you automated this information gathering, and combined it with what bussines and goverment already kknow about you: voila!
Instant police state.

Lets hope it doesn't come to that but our private sphere has slowly been schrinking for some time now.

Are you sick of page widening posts... (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936641)

then please post here.
2Lameness has filtered me!


Me so horny! (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936647)

I kiss you!

Welll... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2936654)

Well, if four Saudi citizens purchase one-way first-class tickets on a flight, with reservations made over the web from a Kinko's terminal, and pay cash at the terminal gate.... is it racist to wonder what they're up to?

All day September 12th I found myself wishing they had done something like this earlier.

It's only racist if judged by racists (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936680)

The white middle classes are the most racist of all. They despise and fear other cultures, but in their need to justify the fact they are 'civilised', they introduce concepts like "Positive Discrimination" into society in order to artificially promote the underclasses. A black man has to do less work than a white man in order to succeed at a particular task. No wonder they become arrogant.

Remember, Negative Moderation is a form of racism.

Use cash instead of credit cards (3)

HuskyDog (143220) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936655)

If you read the article you will see that quite a lot of the information (e.g. what restaurants you frequent) could only be discovered by credit card records.

Do what I do and use cash whenever possible.

Obviously, it wouldn't be sensible to buy your air tickets with cash, but the airline knows who you are anyway so you don't lose anything by paying by card on this occasion.

Sure it Would (2)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936742)

Just used your friendly neighborhood travel agent and pay them in cash. Travel agents are very handy and underrated anyway. They're happy to play what-if scenarios to try to find you a less expensive rate and have access to multiple means of getting you to your destination, so if those last minute air tickets cost too much, they can try Amtrack or Greyhound for you.

Re:Use cash instead of credit cards (1)

rant-mode-on (512772) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936786)

I am the same, I use cash whenever possible, but do use c/c's for flights. But isn't this just going to attract attention? Little used c/c buying flights will (should?) trigger somebody's attention.

You could use cash to buy flights, but this too triggers flags as you're less traceable. Then they'll want more ways to track you.

An overview of the eventual responses (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2936657)

30%: "If this is what it takes to not get blown up by terrorists, OK."
55%: The "Those who would trade liberty for security..." quote, with typos or the wrong source name.
10%: The above quote, spelled correctly and attributed to the right person.
4%: "I'm sure glad I don't fly, because now I can REJECT THE EVIL ESTABLISHMENT MAN! Pass the bong."

Re:An overview of the eventual responses (1)

Pastor Fluff (555255) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936802)

A minor correction...

25%: "If this is what it takes to not get blown up by terrorists, OK."
50%: The "Those who would trade liberty for security..." quote, with typos or the wrong source name.
8%: The above quote, spelled correctly and attributed to the right person.
4%: "I'm sure glad I don't fly, because now I can REJECT THE EVIL ESTABLISHMENT MAN! Pass the bong."
12%: "CowboyNeal"

This will only inconvenience non-terrorists (4, Insightful)

hotgrits (183266) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936659)

All of these draconian rules will simply drive more and more people away from flying.

It's already a pain in the ass to board a plane two hours before takeoff, strip down to your underwear for the security screeners, and then wait on the tarmac for three more hours when the airport gets evacuated because the minimum-wage security screener was napping when somebody snuck through.

All this while the terrorists will do what they've always done: they'll case the airport, a little bit at a time, probing for every weakness. Then, when they're ready, they'll strike. And all we can ever do is play catch-up, closing the barn door after the horses are gone.

Now, I'm all for making the skies safe, but at some point the burdens outweigh the benefits. People already put up with a hell of a lot to fly somewhere. Add any more hassle and those planes will be flying empty.

Oh thank goodness (4, Funny)

fluxrad (125130) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936661)

This will solve all of our problems! Hurah for the FBI and other organizations. they've seriously cleaned everything up.

Now that we've weeded out that large portion of the terrorist world that runs around conspicuously advertising the fact that they're terrorists, using their real names and all kinds of paper-trail leaving items like credit cards, real id's and such, all we have to worry about now is that tremendously tiny segment of the criminal population that uses devious means to achieve their goals.

Thank god the vast majority of criminals and terrorist won't be able to circumvent this measure! Otherwise, it would just be a burden on the American public. And the government would never do something that shortsighted and dumb! Right?

It's your own fault. (5, Interesting)

Krapangor (533950) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936664)

In Europe we have information protecting laws which forbid such things. And we have these laws because some dudes sued at the constitutional courts and these court order the goverments to make such laws. You didn't fight for such things and claimed it to be "overregulation". And now your govs are fucking you up. So don't wine about being oppressed. Freedom is something you have to fight for. Everyday.

Thread prediction.. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2936665)

2 posts quoting "Those who trade liberty for safety deserve neither"
19 posts screwing up the quote

Re:Thread prediction.. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2936699)

1 post from some idiot trying to blame the whole mess Microsoft somehow.
1 post from somebody wondering if the passenger profiling software will be open-source, so the open source community can audit the code for any backdoors
4 posts asking everybody to donate to the EFF
9 posts attributing the "Those who trade liberty for safety deserve neither" quote to somebody other than than Ben Franklin.
4 posts about the Agenda VR3 PDA, moderated up to Score 5: Informative.
9 posts containing ASCII art goatse.cx gaping assholes.

The good, the bad, and the ugly... (2)

meckardt (113120) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936666)

It sounds like the system that is being described in the article is programmatically doing the type of data analysis that is performed manually by current intelligence agencies. This just speeds it up to where it would provide useful realitime data correllations.

The disadvantage is that it could potentially intrude on the public's privacy. Because it is so much easier to dig up unrelated facts, it would encourage law enforcement agencies to use such a system to go on "treasure hunts", just to see what dirt they could dig up.

What could get nasty though, is if the system could be tweaked by an unscroupulous operator to "plant" facts about someone they wanted to go after. It occasionally happens already, using physical evidence or data. This system could make it easier.

Messing with big brother (2)

cluge (114877) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936673)

As Big Brother starts to collate that data I expect some interesting patterns will emerge. The famous "bought incubus CD -->probable anachristDO NOT issue that speeding ticket, you'll be embarassed on court!--"

It will be interesting to see what type of metric this data produces. Now if the data is flawed then it's not much use to anyone. I can't wait! I guess I have to start living with 2 Iranian women, purchase lots of ski gear (here in sunny FL) and start reading more ancient druid text.

The next TRUE geek test. Just how far away from the curve can you get. Just how confusing is it for Big Brother to pigeon hole you?

Who says it is going to be a hijack next time? (1, Troll)

Ice Tiger (10883) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936675)

Apart from the issue that 911 started the death of the US by itself, who says that the weopen (an aircraft) can't be chartered, purchased, or by any other means aquired?

One day the US will wake up and realise it is no longer the USA.

Very sad.

Re:Who says it is going to be a hijack next time? (4, Redundant)

bpowell423 (208542) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936778)

Sadly true. The thing about terrorism is that there is no way the terrorists can't win. Any security can be circumvented. So we protect against any given types of attacks, what's to prevent them from using a different means. I could drive my pickup truck head-on into a school-bus this afternoon and nobody could stop me. (trust me, I won't) What are we going to do about that possible terrorist threat, build seperate roads for school busses to travel on? Yes, that's a bad examble, but the point is the same. That's why Bin Laden won the war on terrism the moment his pawns rammed those planes into the WTC and the Pentagon. America changed at that point. Americans became more paranoid. The government got an excuse to impose pretty much anything they want. Tilting at windmills in the guise of increasing security. But what else could have happened? We couldn't just pretend that nothing happened. If we'd have done that, that plane that dropped in Pennsylvania would have hit its target.

America is changing, and you're right... one day we'll wake up and realise it is no longer the USA. Maybe one day we'll wake up and this will all be a bad dream, but that possibility is so remote as to be, well, a dream. The reality of the future is starting to settle in around us and it all seems so...


This is why... (3, Insightful)

EnglishTim (9662) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936676)

This is why Europe should have never backed down with the US over data protection. It would be illegal to do this in Europe without the express permission of everybody who they take the data from. Europe will not allow companies to export data to countries that do not have any form of data protection legislature (like the US). However, as far as I'm aware they bowed to US pressure to make it a special case. Great. I can't think of any country with companies that are more likely to abuse that information.

Re:This is why... (0)

nick255 (139962) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936740)

It would be illegal for a company to collect this data in Europe. But it is not illegal for European governments to collect data on citizens in the interest of security. Many European countries already have national ID cards which have to be carried at all time. There are proposals in Greece that these cards should even carry you religion. In Britian you can be tracked in any city centre on CCTV cameras. Portraying Europe as a place where your privacy is respected outside your home is not true.

Re:This is why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2936807)

It would be illegal to do this in Europe without the express permission of everybody who they take the data from.

But of course it's perfectly legal to keep cameras on practically every street corner in some neighborhoods so the authorities can track your movements through the city.

Face it, every country finds some way to violate your privacy.

Wilcommen fur 4th Reich (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2936677)

Ahemm..., shouldn't we profile MS Windows users, since they spread public diseases in form of viruses?

Your agenda sickens me (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936695)

Has an Outlook based virus killed anyone? No. Then why trivialise the deaths of the thousands who were claimed in the name of 'allah' that fateful Tuesday?

You are no better than the gibbering lunatics that claim a huge Zionist conspiracy snuck past WTC security the night before and planted several tons of explosives into the buildings.

"They didn't fall down. They crumbled like powder. Blame the Jews."


To a degree (1)

sargon666777 (555498) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936685)

Well at this point at least to a degree they have been (although not very efficiently) tracking traveling to a great degree anyhow. Incidents like this though just gives them an excuse to go a little further with it and still appear to be doing something in the intrest of the protection of the public. To a point this is a good thing, but there is always that one person (or group) who will take it to far and then the next thing you know it turns out they were recording information not even relevant to the task at hand becuase someone seemed to think it might be useful.

One "little" problem (4, Interesting)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936703)

What about the thousands of business travellers every year who attend a weeks worth of meetings and

a) Don't buy their own ticket

b) Don't book their hotel

c) Give the address they are staying at as the company they are visiting.

Or even crazier....


For pities sake linking all of the reservations systems in the US to try and catch terrorists based in the middle east ? I hate to break it to the muppets out there who thought of this but I can go to a website outside of the US (e.g. This one [skydeals.co.uk] ) and book tickets.

The first thing such a system would find is things like

"Hey look IBMs corporate card has booked 4 people onto this flight, 1 in first class, 1 in business and 2 in coach. We'd better check it out"


"Some guy in Redmond is booking hundreds of flights a week going all over the world... including to the middle east"

This wins two awards

1) Brain dead of the year


2) Failure to recognise the world outside of the US

Re:One "little" problem (2)

bribecka (176328) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936809)

Some guy in Redmond is booking hundreds of flights a week going all over the world... including to the middle east"

Um, corporate credit cards are all different for each employee. There isn't ONE for the whole company. They do it that way so they can track each employees expenses.


It's not the initial use that is scary (0)

TrollMan 5000 (454685) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936711)

From the Washington Post article:

If you can profile for terrorists, you can profile for other things," said Richard M. Smith, an independent computer security and privacy specialist. "The computer technology is so cheap and getting so much cheaper, you just have to be careful: Turn up the volume a little bit, and we just use the air transportation system to catch everybody.

Screen for terrorists, that's fine, aslong it is only used for that purpose. The problem is, that the government and airlines will most likely use the system for other things. Like the business traveler that flies to Orlando for a business meeting comes home to find 100 lbs. of spam brochures from Walt Disney World.

A Geek Gives A First-Hand Account (4, Insightful)

hotgrits (183266) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936712)

Read what happened [msn.com] to Microsoft Chief Architect Charles Simonyi when he got profiled at an airport.

Cool, I'll be matched by Perl (4, Funny)

The Ape With No Name (213531) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936713)

if ($passenger =~ /leftist|non-conformist|muslim|CowboyNeal|ain\'t\s right/gi) {

warn "Potential Threat\n";



Re:Cool, I'll be matched by Perl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2936810)

Oooh, yes, you're so dangerous and non-conformist that the government is trying to find you and catch you! Definitely! You're so non-mainstream! You're not like those other redneck gun-toting Americans, you're tolerant! So damn cool. So damn cool.

Privacy? Hah! (1)

ipxodi (156633) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936744)

...testing a vast air security screening system designed to instantly pull together every passenger's travel history and living arrangements, plus a wealth of other personal and demographic information.--

Does anyone actually think that the government doesn't ALREADY have this information readily at hand? Come on, be real. It may not be pleasant, but they've got the info already, we might as well let them use it...

The gov. is genuinely worrying me... (3, Insightful)

BlackGriffen (521856) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936747)

Who does George Bush think he is?

A)Julius Caesar
B)Napolion Bonaparte

It may not be him, though. Bush strikes me as a cream puff. He may not be emotionally stable (most cocaine/alcohol abusers aren't), but someone who claims to be "a uniter" and "compassionate" wouldn't be making the U.S. in to a pariah, the way it is becoming right now. In all honesty, the personality that fits the bill is Dick Cheyney. Colin Powell may be ex military, but if he wanted power he could be in the driver's seat right now. Hell, if he had announced his candidacy after the Republicans and Democrats did their primaries, he could have won on a write-in.

The question of the day is this: will whoever is calling the shots at the head of the US be satisfied before he starts WWIII? Afghanistan, fine. Some saber rattling is expected with Iraq, Sept 11 or no. But calling N Korea, Iran, and Iraq an "Axis" of terror is downright foolish. Right there he's comparing them to Hitler and the Nazis. Not very diplomatic, is it?

Let's just hope no permanent damage is done while the idiot in charge (may not be Bush) attempts to out-idiot himself.


Technological answer is not the answer... (1)

NeoTron (6020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936748)

There they go again - basically saying they need more technology to solve the problem, when in actual fact the more technology the authorities use, the less likely "undesireables" will be caught.

Why? Because any "undesireable" with enough savvy will go low-tech - not send messages electronically etc. Also, anyone with an ounce of intelligence will know how obviously easy it will be to get around this profiling schema - can you say "each buy thier own ticket under a false identity for the same flight" ?

Privacy Aside... (1)

drb (61308) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936754)

Privacy aside, what gets me about this article is the fact that one might be permanently stigmatized without doing anything wrong. Say I rent an apartment in Boston for a year. If for some reason (without my knowledge) that apartment is somehow "linked" to terrorist activities, I'll be searched, questioned, and harassed every time I fly for the rest of my life! To make matters worse, I won't even know why. If the secrecy around this new system is anything like that around CAPS, there is little chance I would be able to get a copy of my own dossier in order to figure out why I'm always being flagged. A truly fair system would have to have an inquiry mechanism so that one could check their own file. It would also need some way of challenging one's own threat index - through arbitration or some similar process. I would also hope that one's threat index would be reassessed after every flight. If (after renting that apartment in Boston) I flew several times, was questioned, and was determined not to be a threat, my index should reflect that.

And what are the chances that this new whiz-bang security software will fall under the GPL...? :-)

Time to start driving... (2)

wiredog (43288) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936759)

Given the delays we already have, for anyplace that's within 8 hours drive time it's no slower to drive. Actually, since I usually dedicate an entire day to any flight, for anyplace that's within 20 hours drive time it's reasonable to drive. So, living here in Virginia, It'd only be more convienent to fly if I was going west of the Mississippi River.

Unfortunately, most of my long distance trips are visits to family in Utah. That's about 36 hours driving time, not including stops for such luxuries as sleep. Damn.

Unanswered Questions (1)

GreenHell (209242) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936760)

Industry officials have already discussed with lawmakers the possible need to roll back some privacy protections in the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Driver's Privacy Protection Act to enable them to use more of the credit and driver's-license data.

So, why do they need to roll back parts of these acts? What parts do they want to roll back? And most importantly, what do these acts say to begin with?
&ltsarcasm&gt Is it because they want to know I only have 3 points left and used my credit card to buy a Big Mac last Tuesday? &lt/sarcasm&gt

A limited model report, generated by Accenture on one individual, looked like any number of publicly available dossiers provided by information services. It included all his addresses for the past two decades, the telephone numbers and former addresses of people who now occupy those residences, and the names, ages, addresses, telephone numbers and partial Social Security numbers of possible relatives. Some of the information was incomplete or, apparently, unrelated to the passenger.

Ooooh! unrelated to the passeneger! Glad to know that they kept track of who now lives where I used to live, that's real useful info. Even more glad to know that I may get checked out for something that has nothing to do with me... (Yes, I know this was just a test system they're talking about, but test systems still have to be tested on the public eventually)

The company said it would eventually like to have more data in the analysis, including embassy warnings, passport information, foreign watch lists. Eventually, with government approval, they would link the system to a national ID or some sort of biometric or both.

Foreign watch lists? Emabassy warnings? What can I say, Salaman Rushdie (sp?) better not plan on flying anywhere. In fact, there's probably a lot of high-profile peole who would have some sort of warning against them by one country or another. Finally, national ID gets brought up yet again. As I'll say everytime it comes up: "yah, that's real useful..."

This is a bad thing? (-1)

ReluctantBadger (550830) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936761)

"Some critics also worry that law enforcement authorities will be tempted to use it for broader aims, such as snaring deadbeat parents or profiling for drug couriers." AND?!?! Why make this sound like a bad thing? Maybe if people knew they were being watched they would a) take responsibility for their actions b) obey the law c) cough up for their kids if they couldn't be bothered to use a contraceptive. Personally, I'd like to make every single person submit fingerprints, hand print, iris scan, DNA, tongue print, voice sample, handwriting sample and have you tagged with a chip a la demolition man. If I know where you are and what you're up to, you'll think twice before thieving, raping or killing.

A Typical Airport Encounter? (2, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936763)

"What have you got, Larry?"

"She's got something against Microsoft, Intel, the Dee-Emm-See-Aye, stupidly awarded patents."

"Yeah, sounds like a radical alright, anything else?"

"She loves something called Linux, processors from a company called Aye-Emm-Dee, and open source something or other."

"Damn, sounds like one to monitor carefully."

"Oh, and she reads something called Slash-Dot."


Klaxons blare, national guard soldiers flood the concourse, passengers witness a woman dragged away in irons with the needles of many stunguns still embedded in her arms and legs.

Yeah, good thing we have people like Ashcroft looking out for us... excuse me, time to feed the pitbulls.

Rocking the Boat (2)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936766)

And yet in the face if this story, Michael still feels the need to rock the boat. Guess who's going to get the "Random" body cavity search next time he flies. Yep, the ticket agent will check his ID in the computer and the computer will go *BOOP* Dissident! This of course putting him on the fast track to all the unpleasant "random" security measures.

Let me get this right... (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936767)

On the heels of the worst terrorist attack in US history, [slashdot.org]
You guys are worried about
profiling software?

Get some priorities will ya!
We should be flocking to our churches
having prayer services. We should be
spending our time with our families
instead of posting this BS on Slashdot

No more travel by me. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2936768)

I like the "7 levels" of association. I'm pretty sure that somewhere no more than 3 levels away, the FBI is watching someone who could limit my travel...

I'm a Slashdot reader.
One of the million(s) of other slashdot readers may know a (god forbid) hacker.. Maybe even a hacker who reads a forbidden list such as (gasp) BugTraq! Now I'm an elite underground hacker by association. Who knows what evil plots I may be up to..

Guess what.. That makes all of you guilty by association too.

I'm thinking this may slightly change my plans on attending future DefCon conventions.. I may have to drive instead of fly. I'm sure previous con's will definately flag my name for years to come.

I've been expecting the mysterious 4am knock on my door from the FBI. Now they won't have to bother, they can just wait for me at the mass transit terminal of their choice. I'll just sweep my newly designated Federal identification (my good ol' drivers license) to get into the subway or through an airport checkpoint, and the stormtroopers will be there.

I'm not sure I like the government's new found power.. We all know perfectly well the aren't just going to use it for this set of terrorists, they'll use it for anyone they deem a criminal element.

I wonder how long it will take to explain the items in my normal carry-on bag..

- Laptop (Linux, of course)
- Hand tools (4-tip screwdriver, cutters, cat5 crimper, phone crimper, tone tester, etc)
- various wires (network, power, etc)
- small unidentifyable electronic components.
- small personal messaging device (Motorola "Communicator")
- technical documentation and diagrams (oh my)

Previous to Sept 11th, it was checked over twice before every trip. They'd do the swab test, look at it as if they knew what anything in it was, and then ask "do you have a knife in there?" I say no. They'd ask me various questions regarding my trip to see if I would trip up. It's hard to trip up with "Flying out to fix a client's network, coming back tommorrow."

Frequently my checked luggage is a large bag with various non-descript boxes inside (servers, components, etc).

Thank goodness I haven't had to travel since Sept 11th. I've been watched at airports just waiting to pick people up.. You can entertain yourself for hours when you're waiting for a delayed flight. Just keep walking around, and identify the undercover security agents.


target selection (1)

gdon (27012) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936781)

I can think of less ordinary people that should
be tracked too : current or former CIA executives
for instance. They have showed a real talent for
doing nasty things using airplanes : Pigs Bay,
Chile, IranGate, sponsorship of extremist armed
groups, add your favorite state terrorism act

The average dude is now getting more and more
filed, americans' cherished freedom is fading out,
but I don't think this will stop the madness in
this world. Governments, corps and friends are too
clever for shooting themselves so bad.


Why do I have such great faith in this scheme??? (2)

dpilot (134227) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936784)

At Christmas, I took the wife and kids back to Grandma's house.

As we came to the gate at boarding time, they were conducting the 'random search' on a bearded male who looked to be in his early 20's. A little later, they pulled me aside for the 'random search'. I guess the fact that I was travelling with a wife and two kids doesn't matter, nor does being in my mid-40s. I'm a bearded male.

I have a friend who has the same name as a porno producer, and he's gotten terrible hassles coming back into the US, over mistaken identity.

Somehow I doubt adding computers to the profiling scheme will improve things much. Imagine kids cracking the things to get their friends searched on family vacations. Or their enemies.

Patterns (1)

inerte (452992) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936792)

It's incredible how in the name of security some governaments are leveraging citizen's life style. You must act like everybody else so you're not caught as beign weird, strange, which of course, means suspicious, terrorist, etc...

At the same time, media and cheap self-help books tell you how important is to be unique.

I wonder when this clash of morals will erupt and become a real problem.

Not for the Slashdot community, paranoic by nature, but for the average citizen. One side you have concerns about your security, phisically speaken (survival), and you empower governaments to garantee this desire.

On the the other side, you have your social needs to be fulfilled, and you (most people anyway) empowered the media to advice them about what is 'in', and what is soooooo 90.

Why did they make this public ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2936798)

The FrancoDutch company I work for has been already implementing a similar system for 3 years for the EU. I can't tell too many details except that it's hush hush, that all airline companies are supposed to be in it, and that most of the checks are based on nationality. (So no fancy 'if a person buys multiple tickets not next to each other...'). I applied for working on the system, but I wasn't long enough in the company to be allowed to.

I wonder if that's how they found so fast the places where 9/11 people trained in Germany,France & Belgium ?

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2936800)

Why don't we get over all this niggling about privacy and work for a transparent society instead?

The government wants to know everything there is to know about us? Fine. We want to know everything there is to know about it. Fair is fair.

Corporations want all our data? OK. We want all their data.

See how fast things would change.

Mind reading equipment being installed at airports (2, Funny)

onnellinen (303528) | more than 12 years ago | (#2936811)

"This is not fantasy stuff," said Joseph Del Balzo, a former acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration and a security consultant working on one of the profiling projects. "This technology, based on transaction analysis, behavior analysis, gives us a pretty good idea of what's going on in a person's mind."


Graceland tour guide: "Elvis has the left building."

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