DHS stands behind CAPPS II

Transportation Security Administration

Officials from the Homeland Security Department and Transportation Security Administration confirmed the government's intent to implement an effective airline passenger screening system and review public feedback throughout its development.

DHS Chief Privacy Officer Nuala O'Connor Kelly and TSA Administrator Admiral James Loy, issued a joint statement yesterday praising the "historic, responsible dialogue with the traveling public" in the development of the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System, known as CAPPS II.

"Our commitment is to continue developing CAPPS II in the context of a broad-based, responsible and honest dialogue with the American people," the officials stated in the release.

The late-afternoon statement came in response to a morning press conference in which prominent conservatives and privacy advocates voiced several concerns with the computerized system.

CAPPS II has drawn heavy criticism for its proposed use of personal information to confirm passenger identity and target potential terrorists. Privacy advocates are wary of possible civil rights violations that may arise based on revisions to the program documented in a July Federal Register notice.

The scope of the program is becoming too broad, thus taking the focus off airline security, claim critics, who oppose the proposal to use CAPPS II to identify passengers with outstanding arrest warrants for violent crimes.

Federal administrators said the system would not use bank records, credit ratings or medical records in determining passenger ratings, and would not make personal information available to commercial data providers.

"CAPPS II will use limited passenger information to make flying more secure without impinging on individual privacy rights," officials said, adding that they "have an absolute obligation to prevent terrorists and the most violent fugitives from gaining access to our commercial aviation system."

A third Federal Register notice, in which the DHS will outline additional revisions to CAPPS II, is due by the end of the year. Government officials said they welcome public opinion as a valuable tool in developing the system.

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