ACLU Applauds Congress for Reigning in Secure Flight Program; Funding Measure Would Halt Launch, Bar Use of Commercial Databases

September 30, 2005 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – Conferees working on the funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security maintained a ban on the implementation of the Secure Flight passenger-screening program until it is approved by a non-partisan agency, and barred the program from accessing records maintained by commercial data brokers. The American Civil Liberties Union today applauded the move, calling it a victory for the privacy of all air passengers and yet another setback for the Transportation Security Administration’s controversial program.

The following can be attributed to Timothy Sparapani, an ACLU Legislative Counsel:

“It’s time for TSA to throw in the towel on this one. Today’s announcement follows last week’s release of the report of an internal advisory panel at the Department of Homeland Security that was both critical of the Secure Flight program and of the agency. The Secure Flight program has been riddled with controversy and complications from the start. Despite assurances from TSA, it is nowhere near ready for implementation.

“We applaud all lawmakers who rejected attempts by Secretary Chertoff to bypass the Congressionally mandated review, by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office, of the program’s privacy protections. During the August Congressional recess, Chertoff had pressured lawmakers to adopt that change and to permit the TSA to access commercial databases. Both moves were resoundingly rejected today.

“TSA must stop trying to circumvent legitimate concerns about the Secure Flight program and Congress must continue to oversee the program to better protect the privacy of Americans. This program has failed time and time again, and it’s time to let it die.”

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