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United States Government Privacy Politics

Homeland Security Tracks Information of Travelers 338

Posted by Zonk
from the you-have-nothing-to-hide-right dept.
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."
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Homeland Security Tracks Information on Travelers

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  • by justkarl (775856) * on Friday December 01, 2006 @03:52PM (#17071004) Homepage
    ...the makers of this system need to work on Netflix's reccomendation system.
    • by value_added (719364) on Friday December 01, 2006 @04:04PM (#17071256)
      My guess is that it's more like the Slashdot moderation system. Mod +5 Safe or -1 Looks Like ann Arab to Me. Either way, I expect the courts will, at some point in the future, get their chance to meta moderate.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by russ1337 (938915)
        I can expand on that.

        From the Mod FAQ:
        Also, if a single user is moderated down several times in a short time frame, a temporary ban will be imposed on that user... a cooling off period if you will. It lasts for 72 hours, or more for users who have posted a ton.
        The same as being sent to GITMO. No meta mods (courts), just 'other peoples opinion' when the victim^H^H^H^H^H^H *cough* terrorist doesn't follow Slashdot groupthink.
      • Just to make it easier , I think we should rate potential hijackers and suicide bombers as -5 Flamebait, don't you?
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by ectal (949842) *
        Dangerous. What if security ends up trusting the terrorists that are +5 Funny?
    • Re:Sounds like.... (Score:5, Informative)

      by creimer (824291) on Friday December 01, 2006 @04:25PM (#17071620) Homepage
      Nah... Remember that the Homeland Security is a front for corporate interests. Marketing departments will pay good money to know what Joe Blow was doing if he wasn't blowing up the plane.
      • by mi (197448)
        Marketing departments will pay good money to know what Joe Blow was doing if he wasn't blowing up the plane.

        They already know. Federal Government is just catching up on the use of technology employed by marketeers and creditors.

  • It's True (Score:2, Funny)

    by ClamIAm (926466)
    Terrorists looooove chicken with a side of fresh veggies. Good work, TSA.
    • Re:It's True (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chaffar (670874) on Friday December 01, 2006 @04:05PM (#17071266)
      It just means that if you're an 18-25 year old male from any country that ends with -stan and you ordered your meal to be halal then you're flagged as potential terrorist. It's as simple as that.
      • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Friday December 01, 2006 @04:26PM (#17071632) Homepage Journal
        First there's the games theory problem. Stop everyone from Saudi Arabia from boarding airplanes, and the killers will put locally recruited types like John Walker Lindh onto airplanes.

        Second, nobody has a monopoly on killing innocent people. From Salon's Patrick Smith, via Bruce Schneier's blog:

                * In 1985, Air India Flight 182 was blown up over the Atlantic by:

                    a. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
                    b. Bill O'Reilly
                    c. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir
                    d. Indian Sikh extremists, in retaliation for the Indian Army's attack on the Golden Temple shrine in Amritsar

                * In 1986, who attempted to smuggle three pounds of explosives onto an El Al jetliner bound from London to Tel Aviv?

                    a. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
                    b. Michael Smerconish
                    c. Bob Mould
                    d. A pregnant Irishwoman named Anne Murphy

                * In 1962, in the first-ever successful sabotage of a commercial jet, a Continental Airlines 707 was blown up with dynamite over Missouri by:

                    a. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
                    b. Ann Coulter
                    c. Henry Rollins
                    d. Thomas Doty, a 34-year-old American passenger, as part of an insurance scam

                * In 1994, who nearly succeeding in skyjacking a DC-10 and crashing it into the Federal Express Corp. headquarters?

                    a. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
                    b. Michelle Malkin
                    c. Charlie Rose
                    d. Auburn Calloway, an off-duty FedEx employee and resident of Memphis, Tenn.

                * In 1974, who stormed a Delta Air Lines DC-9 at Baltimore-Washington Airport, intending to crash it into the White House, and shot both pilots?

                    a. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
                    b. Joe Scarborough
                    c. Spalding Gray
                    d. Samuel Byck, an unemployed tire salesman from Philadelphia
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765)
          Monopoly - no

          95% - yes

          http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ [thereligionofpeace.com]
        • by drkich (305460) * <(moc.liamg) (ta) (enilhcikd)> on Friday December 01, 2006 @04:55PM (#17072180) Homepage
          * In 1986, who attempted to smuggle three pounds of explosives onto an El Al jetliner bound from London to Tel Aviv?

                                  a. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
                                  b. Michael Smerconish
                                  c. Bob Mould
                                  d. A pregnant Irishwoman named Anne Murphy

          The answer is A. She is an Irishwoman best known as the former girlfriend of the Jordanian terrorist Nezar Hindawi. While she was pregnant with his child, Hindawi convinced her to unknowingly take an explosives-laden bag on board an El Al flight. Nezar was born in 1954 and when this was committed, 1986, he was 32 years old.

          I agree, there are other people that want to kill people, just get the facts straight.
          • by RsG (809189) on Friday December 01, 2006 @05:02PM (#17072316)
            And this shows the effectiveness of profiling how exactly? I'm sorta lost how looking for a muslim male, age 17-40, would have helped in her case. Yes, the responsible party was muslim, but what we're talking about here is the effectiveness of profiling systems, and in such a case as this, they would have failed utterly.

            Remember, the GP said nothing of the root causes in each case. He merely said who was carrying the bombs - because that's who airport security is trying to catch. Your point is no refutation of his.
        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by neoform (551705)
          No no no, people don't want to think about THOSE terrorists, Timothy McVey way really just a nice american pie type guy who just got mad. Muslims are bred and trained from birth for one thing; to hate and want to kill Americans. You simply can't compare the two..!
        • by Seraphim1982 (813899) on Friday December 01, 2006 @05:03PM (#17072344)
          Second, nobody has a monopoly on killing innocent people. From Salon's Patrick Smith, via Bruce Schneier's blog:

                          * In 1986, who attempted to smuggle three pounds of explosives onto an El Al jetliner bound from London to Tel Aviv?
                                  d. A pregnant Irishwoman named Anne Murphy


          That's probably the worst example I could think of if your trying to defend Arabs from the "Arabs want to blow up airplaes" sterotype. Ann Murphy had no intention of killing anyone. Her Jordanian fiancée, Nizar Hindawi, planted those three pounds of explosives in her bag and convinced her to go on the trip. When he was captured he claimed that this was done at the urging of high ranking officers in the Syrian Airforce. In short: At the behest of Syria a "Muslim male extremist between the ages of 17 and 40" was willing to kill his fiancée, his child, and 375 passengers.
        • by Total_Wimp (564548) on Friday December 01, 2006 @05:21PM (#17072666)
          You are awesome.

          In addition to the air sabotage you mentioned, one of the most feared terrorist organizations in the eighties and nineties was the IRA. True, they weren't feared much by us because they didn't strike at us, but neither did the PLO.

          Of those that did strike at us, we probably had the most fear about very loosely connected "patriots" in our country that belonged to groups that often called themselves "militias". Of these groups and, others vaguely related, various law enforcement agencies often confiscated positively scary quantities of guns and ammo. These groups largely peaked around the time of the destruction of the federal building in Oklahoma City, which Timothy McVeigh stated was done because of his sympathy, if not actual participation, with these groups.

          I think Timmy, the members of the various "militias" and the members of the IRA would be very unlikely to be swept up in the "Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40" category. In fact, plain ol' white folk in our country have a surprisingly high propensity to get caught up in emotional issues that then lead to them feeling they need to destroy something. The KKK, for example, has largely stuck to acts of terror on individuals, but has not been against firebombing a school building or such here and there. Anti-abortion activists have found both non-lethal and murderous ways to terrorize abortion clinics and doctors.
          Once again, these haven't been on planes, but does it make them any less lethal or scary? Does that fact that these things were done by largely white Westerners mean it's not actual terror? Maybe it's just that since we understand (note: understanding does notj equal agreement) many of the reasons behind these acts, they don't instill the same sense of terror in us as mostly nameless, faceless terrorist fighting for something or other in the Middle East.
          People need to remember to ask themselves what might be coming from their right if they place all their attention on their left. We need to look both ways when crossing this street. Terrorists are all over the place. If you check every guy with brown skin and a beard, you're likely to find out the hard way that your very white, nice, clean cut neighbor is the one that's really upset about [insert cause here] and thinks a few hundred people need to die to show the world just how mad he really is.

          If you want a war on Islamic Fundimentalists, then at least have the balls to say it. If you want a "war on terror", then my friend, terror starts at home.

          TW

        • by yali (209015) on Friday December 01, 2006 @05:37PM (#17072948)
          First there's the games theory problem. Stop everyone from Saudi Arabia from boarding airplanes, and the killers will put locally recruited types like John Walker Lindh onto airplanes.

          As long as you're using concepts from game theory, let's introduce the concept of "zero sum." Because it's not just that profiling doesn't work - profiling may actually worsen security.

          At any given point in time, a security checkpoint has fixed amount of resources to scrutinize passengers. Under profiling, you are devoting greater manpower to searching the Arabs' bags than you would under no profiling. That means that you are actually devoting less resources to scrutinizing the pregnant Irishwomen's bags than you would under no profiling. So if the bad guys can make an educated guess about who does and doesn't fit the profile, profiling actually helps them.

          Profiling + Savvy bad guys = Worse security

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by russ1337 (938915)

        Attendant: Pork sausages or Spaghetti and Meatballs?
        Passenger1: Sausages

        Attendant: Pork sausages or Spaghetti and Meatballs?
        Passenger2: Sausages

        Attendant: Pork sausages or Spaghetti and Meatballs?
        Passenger3: Meatballs

        ....... Some time later.......

        Attendant: Pork sausages or Spaghetti and Meatballs?
        Passenger n : Sausages
        Attendant: Oh, I'm sorry, we are all out, we only have Halal Chicken.
        Passenger n: ah no problem, chicken it is.

        CIA: Hey, some guy just ate the Halal Chicken. Flag him.

        • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
          CIA: Hey, some guy just ate the Halal Chicken. Flag him.

          Nah, the Halal Chicken will just be laced with Rohypnol to make all who consume it unconscious for the duration of the flight.

          -b.

      • [...] you ordered your meal to be halal then you're flagged as potential terrorist.

        I always order Halal — because airline Kosher tends to be too bland. Never had any problems. I am not from a "-stan", but almost so — born and raised in Ukraine, home to a sizable Muslim minority and easy to enter from nearby "-stans". So much for your little fear-mongering theory, is not there?

        Then, again, maybe I am flagged as a potential terrorist — don't know. I do know, that so far this has not impa

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SnowZero (92219)
        I cannot believe you people. So, how many of you believe that Bush caused 9/11 by "missing obvious signs" that an attack was imminent? Now, when they go looking for those signs, everyone complains about losing freedom. You cannot have it both ways. Personally, I like freedom, thus I don't blame Bush for 9/11. However, since just about everyone did blame the government, now we have these idiotic systems put in place by the government to try to find that impossible needle in a haystack. Congratulations,
    • So they should just order the pork chops but not actually eat it, and they're in the clear. Great system.
  • by yourpusher (161612) on Friday December 01, 2006 @03:58PM (#17071126) Homepage Journal
    I spent a good part of my childhood just a few miles away from the lucky side of the Iron Curtain. One of the things that our teachers told us was so bad about East Germany was the fact that they "kept files on their citizens! Normal people, like you and me!"

    So what do we tell the kids, today?

    • by SydBarrett (65592) on Friday December 01, 2006 @04:04PM (#17071236)
      Just call them "freedom files".
    • by Tackhead (54550)
      > I spent a good part of my childhood just a few miles away from the lucky side of the Iron Curtain. One of the things that our teachers told us was so bad about East Germany was the fact that they "kept files on their citizens! Normal people, like you and me!"
      >
      > So what do we tell the kids, today?

      We point out that one in three East Germans was helping STASI with citizen surveillance, (no doubt with similar numbers for the USSR and KGB) but only a few thousand upper Party members were actuall

    • by Tackhead (54550)
      Bah. Fingerslip before post that wastes a paragraph = teh suck. No doubt my terror rating just went up for that.

      > I spent a good part of my childhood just a few miles away from the lucky side of the Iron Curtain. One of the things that our teachers told us was so bad about East Germany was the fact that they "kept files on their citizens! Normal people, like you and me!"
      >
      > So what do we tell the kids, today?

      We point out that one in three East Germans was helping STASI with citizen surveill

    • by kabocox (199019)
      I spent a good part of my childhood just a few miles away from the lucky side of the Iron Curtain. One of the things that our teachers told us was so bad about East Germany was the fact that they "kept files on their citizens! Normal people, like you and me!"

      So what do we tell the kids, today?


      Call them Santa's Black Op Elf Files. Santa has to know whose been naughty or nice!
  • WTF? "Uh oh... Achmed over there ordered something weird. He might be a terrorist. Ban him from the plane". This reminds me of an episode of that classic chilrden's cartoon "Wait Till Your Father Gets Home". The main character had a red scare neighbor who was always looknig for "commies" everywhere. He was saying how he'd figured out a way to get all the commies and wanted to tell the CIA about it. His method? "Find all the names in the phonebook that end with 'ski' and you've got 'em"!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by antifoidulus (807088)
      Obviously the best way to fly is to have lots of booze and pork....well...not necessarily related to being labeled a terrorist, really booze is the only thing that makes flying bearable.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by operagost (62405)
      Obviously, this method is a bit more sophisticated than yours as it uses a FEW more variables. I'm not following your logic, which seems to be that if creating a profile based on one factor is stupid then creating one based on many factors is no better.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765)
        Just for the record.

        They came aboard - ok ... no problem
        They made a lot of noise - ok ... happens
        They ordered - unecessary seatbelt extensions - which are heavy metal objects - ok .. no problem
        They stood up and started praying - ok ... no problem ... makes people nervous
        They sat back down ONE AT EACH EXIT OF THE PLANE - BIG problem

        These people were trying to do one of 2 things
        -> terrorist attack
        -> get themselves removed from the plane so they could call "racist"

        You're not going to tell me these people
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by cold fjord (826450)
        Do you think you're exaggerating?

        Muslims removed from airplane when passengers found praying to be suspicious


        The Star Tribune article that you link to is appallingly bad. Practically speaking it is closer to disinformation about the incident and why the Imams were removed from the plane.

        How the imams terrorized an airliner [washingtontimes.com]

        Muslim religious leaders removed from a Minneapolis flight last week exhibited behavior associated with a security probe by terrorists and were not merely engaged in prayers, according to

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Friday December 01, 2006 @04:00PM (#17071162) Homepage
    So if you're flagged you're screwed? If "the ATS is exempt from many provisions of the Privacy Act -- one cannot view their rating or the information used to generate it", and if you get erroneously flagged, you're screwed???

    This is like the no-fly list only worse then, isn't it? An algorithm kicks out the belief that you must be a terrorist, and anytime you go anywhere it's gonna beep and you get cold hands and lube once again.

    I hope this gets shot down by a court, because way too many scary things are being passed that exempt themselves from any sort of oversight and transparency. I can envision a lot of people deciding they don't really wish to fly to the US anymore. It's impossible to do without having your privacy invaded or running the risk of ending up on some secret CIA flight or something.
    • by 0123456 (636235) on Friday December 01, 2006 @04:06PM (#17071276)
      "I can envision a lot of people deciding they don't really wish to fly to the US anymore."

      Welcome to several years ago: a heck of lot of people have already decided they don't want to visit America anymore.

      I used to travel to America regularly before 9/11, but I've only been there twice since and both of those were short stops between planes when flying to and from Canada. Why go to a country that will treat me like crap at immigration, then potentially kidnap me and ship me to Cuba if some computer tells them I might be a terrist?
      • by gstoddart (321705) on Friday December 01, 2006 @04:32PM (#17071770) Homepage
        Welcome to several years ago: a heck of lot of people have already decided they don't want to visit America anymore.

        Well, it's definitely building over time, there's no denying that.

        I used to travel to America regularly before 9/11, but I've only been there twice since and both of those were short stops between planes when flying to and from Canada.

        But, even that is getting kind of scary. I seem to recall that some time last year, Gonzales issued a legal opinion that says that they can arrest and detain anyone they see fit, and short of torture (which they defined in terms or organ failure and death) they could do anything they wanted to you.

        It sounds very much like just taking a connecting flight through the US could allow you to end up in custody, declared as an illegal combatant, and locked away. I just simply don't trust people who grant themselves that much power and remove all transparency. I realize it's unlikely, it's just eerie to know they believe that they can do anything they want. Especially if other countries did the same, the US would freak out that their citizens can't go around unfettered.

        Cheers
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by FFFish (7567)
          It sounds very much like just taking a connecting flight through the US could allow you to end up in custody, declared as an illegal combatant, and locked away.

          Not only does it sound like that, it is like that. There was, f'rinstance, the case of Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen, who was pulled while transferring planes and sent off to be tortured in Syria.

          I'm surprised that all foreign travellers are not making a helluvan effort to avoid touching-down in the USA.
      • by soft_guy (534437) on Friday December 01, 2006 @05:08PM (#17072406)
        Don't worry. The CIA can arrest you in your own country and send you to Cuba. You don't have to visit the US for that.
    • too. I was in a train station in San Jose a few months back and noticed the Amtrak ID requirement sign. It's not new, but in summary, one has to present ID to purchase tickets to ride the train between states. So, sounds almost like needing an internal visa or passport. "What, thought you could travel anonymously since we crimped your flying ease? Nyet Nyet..." I figure anyone who is savvy will just meticulously plan their routes to ride the Amtrak as long as they can, then switch to Greyhound or *USA, then
    • by mutterc (828335)

      So if you're flagged you're screwed?

      (Putting aside all the other reasons this is bad...)

      Anyone who's had to maintain a database can tell you they get crufty over time. Since there's no way to spot or correct inaccuracies, inaccuracies will just build up until the system is useless.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Here's a great one for you. My wife and I got married a year ago.

      1) Hotel closed in Bahamas due to hurricane. We changed flights to Hawaii, honeymooned there.
      2) Due to a horrid set of circumstances and poor maintenance on USAIRWAYS - our flight was canceled and I think they towed the plane straight to the dump. FOUR times on & off the plane - first the lights wouldn't come on for the pilots, then warning lights wouldn't go off, etc. We went through security 3 times before we even got on a plane.
      3) T
  • There has not been an al-queda attack on american soil since 9/11, this is absolute proof that these new policies of privacy invasion and loss of freedom are working to keep you safe.
    • by NineNine (235196) on Friday December 01, 2006 @04:08PM (#17071304)
      The scary thing is that half of the people in this country would seriously agree with you 100%.
      • by soft_guy (534437)

        The scary thing is that half of the people in this country would seriously agree with you 100%.
        I haven't been attacked by Elephants since Bush got elected. He sure is doing a great job keeping those elephants from attacking me.
    • There has not been an al-queda attack on american soil since 9/11, this is absolute proof that these new policies of privacy invasion and loss of freedom are working to keep you safe.
      Actually this stone I keep in my pocket is keeping everyone safe.
    • There has not been an al-queda attack on american soil since 9/11, this is absolute proof that these new policies of privacy invasion and loss of freedom are working to keep you safe.

      Absolutely. And the fact that there were eight years between the first two Al Queda attacks on American soil means nothing.

    • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      There has not been an al-queda attack on american soil since 9/11, this is absolute proof that these new policies of privacy invasion and loss of freedom are working to keep you safe.

      Nor was there one between 1994 and 2000, which is a longer period than 2002-2006. Were the government's policies keeping us safe then?

      -b.

  • Great! There is absolutely nothing that can go wrong with this.

    There was a time when a certain amount of distrust of the government was considered "healthy".

    Now it gets you points on your "good american" list.

    I thought my credit score was something to worry about, how long until your "Good American" score will be used as a factor in court proceedings, federal hiring practices, etc. etc.?

    • Re:About Time! (Score:4, Informative)

      by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Friday December 01, 2006 @04:20PM (#17071528) Homepage Journal
      >how long until your "Good American" score will be used as a factor in court proceedings, federal hiring practices, etc. etc.?

      You mean like this?
      The government notice says some or all of the ATS data about an individual may be shared with state, local and foreign governments for use in hiring decisions and in granting licenses, security clearances, contracts or other benefits. In some cases, the data may be shared with courts, Congress and even private contractors.
  • by seriv (698799) on Friday December 01, 2006 @04:01PM (#17071190)
    Out of all the criteria used, meals ordered stood out to me. It seems so out of place, but I imagine that it is a bit of blatant racial profiling. I am guessing that anyone who orders a meal that conforms to an Islamic diet gets a higher rating on this system. I don't think the beef or chicken will make a difference. Perhaps "racial" profiling is not the best term, since this will hunt out people based on Religion, which would be a much greater privacy concern in my mind.
    • Perhaps "racial" profiling is not the best term, since this will hunt out people based on Religion, which would be a much greater privacy concern in my mind.


      Especially considering that jews and muslims have similar dietary requirements.

      Wonder if the TSA will flag the folks from AIPAC or the JDL?

    • And would that be that bad ?

      If muslims stopped blowing others up, it wouldn't take more than 1 or 2 years for them to start screening communists or just regular criminals again.

      "oh but it isn't muslims that are terrorists"

      Yes it is, it is not only muslims, it's muslims doing it for islam :
      http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ [thereligionofpeace.com]

      Just read some of the statements these guys make before mass-murdering their fellow citizens.
    • by metlin (258108)
      You want to know the funny thing?

      I was raised Hindu (although I do not particularly adhere to it anymore) and a lot of Hindus [wikipedia.org], Buddhists [wikipedia.org], Jains [wikipedia.org] (amongst others) do not eat meat nor consume alchohol.

      And if they were checking for something (say, eating pork and not consuming alchohol), all these folks will get tagged too.

      Isn't that sad?

      Then again, I'm resigned to the fact that if I am flying, I'm almost certainly going to get pulled aside for being brown.
      • by metlin (258108)
        And if they were checking for something (say, eating pork and not consuming alchohol), all these folks will get tagged too.

        I meant, "not eating pork and not consuming alchohol" -- my bad.
  • by Avillia (871800) on Friday December 01, 2006 @04:04PM (#17071234)
    *You took a one-way trip to assist in disaster aid in New Orleans or Thailand in the last two years, not knowing when you would be comfortable with/forced to leave the area.
    *You enjoy food from the Middle East (they probably have a Middle-Eastern mid-flight meal SOMEWHERE) after trying some at a small suburban restaraunt near your Pakistani coworker.
    *You paid in cash, since you recently went bankrupt and are moving somewhere that has a lower cost of living.
    *You refused to show your ID in the airport a few months ago because you packed your wallet in your checked bag by accident (Happened to me, it's tons of fun).
    *You checked out a book on Islamic extremism for your Current Issues class, for a Debate on the issue, or other such academia.

    It's good to know our previous Congress was too busy pissing themselves post-911 to have a clear enough mind to see how freaking WRONG the Patriot Act was, and then kept being embarassed by the stain enough to extend it's duration.
  • ...one way ticket to Dubai, aisle seat... with a Terrorist Meal. Oh, can I carry on this box cutter or do I need to check it with my Semtex filled laptop?
  • Where to begin? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Friday December 01, 2006 @04:11PM (#17071370) Homepage Journal
    It's not a national security program:
    >Government officials could not say whether ATS has apprehended any terrorists.

    It can't work because of the base rate fallacy. At any false alarm rate known to man, the output will be statistically indistiguishable from 100% false alarms.

    All these problems are aggravated by the fact that they won't correct errors:
    >Nor can they see the records "for the purpose of contesting the content."

    It's not to keep airplanes safe, it's a general control tool:
    >ATS data about an individual may be shared with state, local and foreign governments for use in hiring decisions and in granting licenses, security clearances, contracts or other benefits.

  • RIP USA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by subl33t (739983)
    I just can't think of a anything good that will come of this.

    Sorry Yanks, the USA is dead, you have one party with two faces to make you think you have a choice. Welcome to Soviet America.

    (goodbye karma)
  • by dgatwood (11270) on Friday December 01, 2006 @04:14PM (#17071438) Journal

    Dave's instant translation from government-speak to English:

    ...'terrorist risk rating'...

    Random number generator.

    ...where they are from,

    If you're from California or one of those other blue states, you must be a terrorist.

    how they paid for tickets

    That child with the world's largest piggy bank is soooo gonna get it.

    their motor vehicle records

    Anybody who has ever driven to Florida is a suspect.

    past one-way travel

    This person seems to have a history of committing terrorist acts against aircraft.

    seating preference

    Only terrorists can't afford first class.

    The meals they ordered in-flight

    Halal is fine, but those vegetarians... man, you've gotta watch out for them. And the vegans... those are the worst.

    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."

    All your base are belong to U.S.

    This concludes this translation session.

  • Just look at my post history :) just kidding. But in addition to what CNN says the compartement (busines/first) lower your score, as well as belonging to a frequent traveler program. I am jsut SURPRISED that the US citizen also are in the database (it used to be only us dirty foreigner).

    So how much worth is this score ? The easiest way to avoid a high score is to pay with credit card (can't be that hard to obtain), always make 2 ways travel even if you do not go "back", get senator/gold frequent 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.

    Translation:
    1. Not from America? TERRORISM!
    2. Don't use American currency? TERRORISM!
    3. Speeding tickets? TERRORISM!
    4. Relocation? TERRORISM!
    5. Like window seats? TERRORISM!
    6. Kosher meal? TERRORISM!

    Thanks you for watching our latest Homeland Security video [youtube.com]!

    • by 0123456 (636235)
      "Like window seats? TERRORISM!"

      No, it's more complicated than that.

      If you like window seats, it's because you're planning to blow yourself up and blow a hole in the side of the plane, so you're a terrorist.

      If you like aisle seats, it's because you're planning to hijack the plane, so you're a terrorist.

      If you like any other kind of seats you're obviously mentally unbalanced, so you're a terrorist.
  • slashdot management: how much money did you make selling the us govt your karma system?
  • by blindd0t (855876) on Friday December 01, 2006 @04:18PM (#17071496)

    I'm not saying this out of paranoia - I'm saying this from personal experiences. I took a trip about a year ago to attend my brother's wedding. As luck would have it, my birthday had passed while I was at my travel destination, and with all the wedding and family stuff going on, I failed to realize that my drivers license had expired while I was at my travel destination. When I went to go on my return flight, I was flagged for "special" scanning/treatment, and I've been "randomly selected" to be frisked every time I travel after that as well. They can look through my bags all they want, but I must admit I seriously dislike (though I tolerate it to avoid conflict with the TSA) being frisked like that by some stranger every time I travel.

    I'm certain some good jokes will follow this, but at least learn from my mistake: make sure your drivers license (even though is technically valid 30 days after expiration) does not expire in the midst of your travels!

    • by dgatwood (11270)

      Your state is weird. Everywhere I've ever lived, they send out an updated license with a new expiration date several weeks ahead of time. Thus, you were almost certainly flagged on suspicion of having a fake driver's license, not because it was expired....

      • by EGSonikku (519478)
        I'm in California and when my DL expired I had to go to the DMV, fill out a form, and pay something like $20 to renew my license. It's possible the DMV mailed me something, but I don't recall ever getting it.
  • .... What makes us think that DHS wasn't already doing this (and they told nobody about it)?
  • Are they tracking travel by car? I make road trips -- plane-distance road trips. I do this instead of flying -- mostly because it is cheaper, but also because of the convenience.

    So on these road trips, there are quite a number of communications towers, as well as these interesting localized sensor packs, complete with wind sensors, some have a camera, and there are other prongs which stick out of their little mast. Sometimes they have solar power, too. I've been tempted to investigate, but I'd probably w
  • how they paid for tickets, ..., seating preference and the meals they ordered in-flight

    Except I, for one, very rarely pay myself for the tickets, never choose explicitly any of the rest, I simply don't care. So, when should I expect them to come for me ? :|
     
  • So I guess one should avoid ordering the snake shishkebab.
  • What the government is probably trying to do here is gather any data the airline captures and see if there are any trends.

    After some time, there may be a trend that terrorists always get the $5 snack pack with orange soda. Hey, you don't know.
    • by 2short (466733)

      Yes, we do know. The rate of actual terrorists is far too tiny to possibly produce any statistically significant results. If every terrorist ever ordered the snack pack with orange soda and paid cash for their ticket, etc. etc., they would still be a tiny fraction of the people that fit that profile.
  • They are applying them to domestic travelers as well and we just don't know about that yet.
  • by kevintron (1024817) on Friday December 01, 2006 @04:51PM (#17072110)
    Every time a story comes up on this topic I see a few people saying we ought to start profiling Muslims, and the only reason we aren't doing it is political correctness. There's a huge flaw in that theory: The obvious and easily profiled Muslims are the openly pious ones who are most likely to be peaceful and least likely to carry out any terrorist attack.

    The real extremists, the ones who are willing to commit terrorism, are more likely to believe their religion allows them to pretend to be something else in order to defeat their enemies. They may not want to wear Western clothing, shave their beards, dye their skin pale white, take on Anglo-American names, forego their daily prayers, or eat pork rib platters for dinner, but extremists will do all of those things and more if it gives them a chance to strike at their perceived enemies. This is why ethnic profiling would be ineffective at best, and any feelings of safety it might create would be utterly false.

    The refusal to openly endorse profiling of Muslims and Middle Eastern people in general is one of the things our government is actually doing right. Most of the people in these categories are not enemies of civilization. It would be a huge strategic mistake to treat all of them as if they were.
    • by cdrguru (88047)
      Agreed that not all extremists would be found by some kind of profiling. Certainly just going after Middle Eastern looking men would be foolish.

      However, it would be doing something. Today, we are doing nothing at all except making air travel more difficult for everyone. It would be trivial to circumvent the TSA folks to bring banned items onto a plane. Carbon-fiber knives are not caught by the TSA. Neither is anything that is in a "shielding" container. So, you put your grenade in a can.

      We pretty much
  • Whom did slashdot blame for not having enough information to prevent 9/11 ? About "signs missed" and stuff like that.
  • Passenger profiling, which Israel has shown to be effective (no hijackings since the 80's, with even more enemies than the US), or the current put-everything-they-tried-last-time-in-a-plastic- b aggie approach currently used?

    The privacy implications are staggering, no doubt, but I'm glad to see the government at least begin to apply a bit of intelligence into securing air travel. The current system is painful and totally ineffective. The implementation will make all the difference. I'm sure the USG will s

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