ACLU Raises Security, Privacy Concerns As Congress Considers TSA's "Registered Traveler Program"

November 3, 2005 12:00 am

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ACLU Raises Security, Privacy Concerns As Congress Considers TSA’s “Registered Traveler Program”


WASHINGTON – As Congress moved a step closer Wednesday to authorizing the Transportation Security Administration’s controversial “Registered Traveler Program,” the American Civil Liberties Union strongly cautioned lawmakers against endorsing an initiative rife with security shortcomings and constitutional problems. The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Economic Security, Infrastructure Protection and Cybersecurity today held a hearing on the future of the program.

“Registered Traveler” would allow frequent fliers willing to pay a fee to stand in shorter lines and receive less scrutiny from TSA screeners. Registered travelers would voluntarily give the government access to extensive amounts of personal information such as biometrics, social security numbers, and financial and employment information. This information would be stored and managed by private data collection companies and used to verify the identity of registered travelers.

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

“Registered Traveler would force Americans to choose between preserving their most private and personal information and speeding through airport security. Those who don’t want to give up this information-or can’t afford the costs-will have to deal with other airport screening lines growing exponentially longer. This isn’t a choice any traveler should be forced to make.

“What’s worse, this program won’t make us safer. Members of a terrorist sleeper cell could obtain false identification and become registered travelers, using the lessened security screening to evade detection and commit a terrorist act. Congress should not spend scarce homeland security dollars on a program that makes us more vulnerable. And Congress should not support a program that draws a big bull’s-eye on the private information of America’s frequent travelers.”

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