Forum re-emphasizes CAPPS II concerns

DHS revision notice

Political conservatives and privacy advocates reasserted their objections to the proposed system for screening airline passengers on Monday and urged the public to convey civil rights concerns to the Homeland Security Department.

The Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System, known as CAPPS II, being planned by the Transportation Security Administration garnered much criticism from the panel members for using personal information to confirm passenger identity and spot potential terrorists.

Speakers at an event hosted by Laura Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington, D.C. legislative office, included former Georgia congressman Bob Barr; Center for Democracy and Technology President James Dempsey; David Keene, president of the American Conservative Union; Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform; and Hilary Shelton, director of the Washington office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Panelists objected to the secrecy surrounding data collection for the system, expanding the scope of the project beyond original parameters, a lack of due process for targeted passengers, and possible discrimination based on passengers' race, religion and ethnic background.

"Not only would CAPPS II threaten privacy and likely reduce security, but there's no guarantee against bias in the system," Murphy said.

Members of the panel agreed that any system used to secure airline travel should match passenger names with updated terrorist watch lists. "The number one thing that should be in there is the names of known terrorists," Dempsey said. "That should be the core of CAPPS II."

They urged the public to take advantage of the 60-day public comment period, which runs through the end of September. "These are concerns that should be voiced over and over," Barr said.

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