2006/08/22

Prepare For Guilt By Itinerary

Back in December '05 I posted on the CDC's attempt to mandate the creation of consolidated airline travel records under the guise of preparing to combat a global pandemic. Well it turns out that such a database already exists. It's called Passenger Name Record (PNR) and is derived from information in the three major airline reservations systems: Saber, Galileo, and Amadeus.

Now here's the kicker, the New York Times reports that DHS Secretary, Michael Chertoff wants unfettered law enforcement access to that database in order to, "...search broadly through the passenger itinerary data to identify people who may be linked to terrorists." And Chertoff isn't the only official in favor of governmental fishing expeditions. The office of Franco Frattini, the European Justice commissioner, has expressed interest in this database as well.

Unlike other repositories, PNR contains a wealth of personal information. Exactly the sort of stuff that could be gathered from a visit to...say...Travelocity--like your address, primary and secondary phone numbers, email addresses, itinerary (location, hotel, and car), in addition to all your payment data. Some of this information was already available to US authorities through the reservation systems...before their access was shut down by Europe's highest court. Now Chertoff wants that decision reversed, is asking for access to the PNR, and wants to expand the circumstances under which the databases can be searched to include passengers that do not already appear on US 'terrorist watch lists'.

Predictably, civil libertarians are complaining but may have no input to the process before the decision is made. So...are we all prepared to deal with guilt by itinerary? 

9 Comments:

So who should we fear most, the bastards who blow up planes or the arseholes who use passenger records to dig into private lives?
They both seem prety misguided to me.
Cartledge you've anticipated me. I'm going to get to the former later today. But on the subject of the latter and setting aside the privacy issue for a moment...imagine the problems involved in dealing with the thousands (millions?) of false postives that trolling through PNR will produce.
No, it's guilt by tourism!

George Bush sez, "If you were a patrotic 'Merican you'd vacation in the US of A, pref'bly travelin' by low-mileage car, spendin' your devaluin' dollars on tourist trinkets made in uther countries!"
It won't be long before we have to state where we are going and what we are going to do and who we are going to see as well as being frisked along the way. A new definition of travel fun.
Man, and just when Tunisian tourism was about to make a comeback!

Sheesh!
Mr_Blog..."guilt by tourism". That's good!

Mary..."Papers, please!"

Praguetwin...Ethiopia too, I should think.
my thoughts were when baby bush wanted us to have a passport to go anywhere in the world - then they would have all that information...sigh

but now they want where we go and with whom -- that just sucks...
Look, this is information that has been available forever. When you travel internationally, and check into a hotel, they want to see your passport. Why? It gets checked against Interpol records. This has been going on for years. Passport history is computerized and each US passport has a bar code on it.

They know where we go, how often, and with whom. They already have this information. The question NOW is how they intend to use it.
AZGoddess, Diva, I think that there are two major difference in what Chertoff is asking for. First, detailed payment information is not available in the reservation systems, but is in PNR. Second, he's asking to expand the circumstances under which they can troll the databases. Basically he wants to start gathering information on travellers from the US who are not already part of an investigation and without a warrant.

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