Automated Targeting System

Document Date: November 22, 2006

The Automated Targeting System (ATS) is a security and tracking program for cargo that DHS has extended to travelers by assigning all who cross the nation’s borders, citizen and non-citizen alike, with a computer-generated “risk assessment” score that will be retained for 40 years. This program represents a monumental change that will have profound effects on Americans’ privacy. It:

  • Will take the unprecedented step of putting the government into the business of creating “security ratings” for millions of its own citizens, and everyone else who crosses the U.S. border.
  • Will likely make judgments based on government databases that we know are already riddled with errors.
  • Will leave individuals without vital rights to review, correct or challenge security ratings or the information on which they are based.
  • Illegitimately claims sweeping exemptions from the Privacy Act, a law that was passed specifically to prevent law enforcement from keeping files or databases on innocent people not suspected of a crime.

Congress needs to intervene and close this program down.

> ACLU Backgrounder on ATS


> ACLU Lauds Senate Hearing on Government Breaches of Privacy, Says Much-Needed Oversight Long Overdue , 1/10/2007
> ACLU Seeks Information on Government Ratings of Travelers, 12/13/2006
> DHS Acknowledges That Terror Ranking Program Is Already in Effect, ACLU Says Program Violates Congressional Spending Ban and Public Notice Requirements, 12/7/2006
> ACLU Calls on DHS to Withdraw Plan For Tagging Americans With 40-Year ‘Risk Assessments,’ 12/1/2006


> ACLU Comments to DHS
> ACLU FOIA Request
> ACLU / Privacy International Letter to European privacy commissioners on the “Automated Targeting System”
> ACLU / Privacy International Letter to Franco Frattini, European Commission, on the “Automated Targeting System”


> Electric Frontier Foundation (EFF) Comments to DHS (PDF)
> Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) Comments to DHS (PDF)
> Identity Project (IDP) Comments to DHS (PDF)


> Homeland Security’s Automated Program of Risk Assessments for Travelers: Why It Fails to Sufficiently Protect Individual Privacy, Find Law, 12/7/06
> DHS Passenger Scoring Illegal?, Wired News, 12/7/06
> ACLU Urges U.S. to Stop Collection of Traveler Data, Washington Post, 12/2/06
> US Plans to Screen All Who Enter, Leave Country, Washington Post, 11/3/06
> Feds Rate Travelers for Terrorism, Associated Press, 11/30/06


> DHS ATS Privacy Assessment (PDF)
> Federal Register Privacy Act Notice extending public comment period 12/8/06
> Federal Register Privacy Act on Automated Targeting System 11/2/06


> ACLU Backgrounder on Aviation Watch Lists
> Airline Security

> ACLU Privacy Page

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