Monday, June 20, 2005

Shocker...Who'd have thunk it

This from the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal agency collected extensive personal
information about airline passengers although Congress told it not to and it said it wouldn't, according to documents obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

A Transportation Security Administration contractor used three data brokers to collect detailed information about U.S. citizens who flew on commercial airlines in June 2004 in order to test a terrorist screening program called Secure Flight, according to documents that will be published in the Federal Register this week.

The TSA had ordered the airlines to turn over data on those passengers, called passenger name records, in November.

The contractor, EagleForce Associates, then combined the passenger name records with commercial data from three contractors that included first, last and middle names, home address and phone number, birthdate, name suffix, second surname, spouse first name, gender, second address, third address, ZIP code and latitude and longitude of address.

EagleForce then produced CD-ROMS containing the information "and provided those CD-ROMS to TSA for use in watch list match testing," the documents said.

According to previous official notices, TSA had said it would not store
commercial data about airline passengers.

The Privacy Act of 1974 prohibits the government from keeping a secret database...

TSA spokesman Mark Hatfield said the program was being developed
with a commitment to privacy, and that it was routine to change the official definition of a system of records during a test phase.

Ladies & gentlemen, your government dollar at work. Never let it be said that the axiom of "Give 'em an inch and they'll take a mile" doesn't ring true. Yet another fine example of restraint accompanied by a sureptitious wink as the man shakes your hand and reaches around behind you to take liberties with your poop shoot.

The frightening thing is that the American public will hardly notice this story.