ACLU challenge

American Civil Liberties Union officials have filed a class-action lawsuit against the Transportation Security Administration for its use of the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS) II.

"This case is about innocent people who found out that their government considers them potential terrorists," said Reginald Shuford, an ACLU senior staff attorney who is lead counsel in the case. "For our clients and thousands like them, getting on a plane means repeated delays and the stigma of being singled out as a security threat in front of their family, their fellow passengers and the flight crew."

The lawsuit charges that a

substantial percentage of employees for the 15 domestic airlines have access to a list of people deemed terrorist threats to air travel. Airport officials, border and immigration agents, law enforcement officials and those with access to other security databases may view the so-called No-Fly list.

The list particularly rankles civil liberties groups because, although they contend that the list is accessible to government, scrutinized individuals cannot confirm if they are on the list. This makes it even more difficult to correct the situation.

CAPPS II, still in its experimental stage, was devised as an improvement on its earlier incarnation. The program is perhaps the most controversial among privacy advocates and has drawn intense fire from members of Congress. Nevertheless, TSA officials defend the program's legality.

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