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DHS Passenger Scoring Almost Certainly Illegal 181

Vicissidude writes "At the National Targeting Center, the Automated Targeting System program harvests up to 50 fields of passenger data from international flights, including names, e-mail addresses and phone numbers, and uses watchlists, criminal databases and other government systems to assign risk scores to every passenger. When passengers deplane, Customs and Border Protection personnel then target the high scorers for extra screening. Data and the scores can be kept for 40 years, shared widely, and be used in hiring decisions. Travelers may neither see nor contest their scores. The ATS program appears to fly in the face of legal requirements Congress has placed in the Homeland Security appropriations bills for the last three years." From the article: "Marc Rotenberg, the director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said he was unaware of the language but that it clearly applies to the Automated Targeting System, not just Secure Flight, the delayed successor to CAPPS II. 'Bingo, that's it -- the program is unlawful,' Rotenberg said. 'I think 514(e) stands apart logically (from the other provisions) and 514 says the restrictions apply to any 'other follow-on or successor passenger prescreening program'. It would be very hard to argue that ATS as applied to travelers is not of the kind contemplated (by the lawmakers).'"

Google De-indexes Talk.Origins, Won't Say Why UPDATED 575

J. J. Ramsey writes "Talk.Origins is an archive with thousands of pages exposing creationist pseudoscience. Rather mysteriously, Google pulled the plug on its search engine, giving only the vague reason: 'No pages from your site are currently included in Google's index due to violations of the webmaster guidelines.' This was apparently triggered by a recent cracking of the site that added 'hidden links to non-topical sites,' but Google won't say just what the violations were. Talk.Origins webmaster Wesley R. Elsberry believes that this Google policy harms honest webmasters." From the article: "My mission, whether I liked it or not, was to find and fix whatever problem the [Talk.Origins Archive] might have, with no guidance as to what the problem was and nothing at all about where to start looking... I was extremely lucky. The damage to my site was limited and in the first place that I happened to look. Other honest webmasters might not be so lucky. They may have to undertake an arduous process of vetting pages, essentially having to second-guess the mind of the cracker in trying to locate a problem that Google knows the exact location of." Thanks to an alert reader who sent in Matt's blog posting about how Google handles hacked sites.
United States

Homeland Security Tracks Information of Travelers 338

feuerfalke writes "Homeland Security recently disclosed a plan regarding an Automated Targeting System, or ATS, that would generate a 'terrorist risk rating' based on information collected about the traveler. This information would include things such as where they are from, how they paid for tickets, their motor vehicle records, past one-way travel, seating preference and the meals they ordered in-flight. These ratings have now been assigned to millions of international travelers, including Americans, and the ATS is exempt from many provisions of the Privacy Act — one cannot view their rating or the information used to generate it."

Some programming languages manage to absorb change, but withstand progress. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982