Vicissidude writes: At the National Targeting Center, the ATS 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, which states, "None of the funds provided in this or previous appropriations Acts may be utilized to develop or test algorithms assigning risk to passengers whose names are not on government watch lists." The prohibition most recently appeared in section 514(e) of Congress' 2007 appropriation, which was signed into law by President Bush on Oct. 4th. 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)."
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