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Date: 2006-12-24

PNR: Kreatives Umbenennen in den USA

Schön langsam kennt man sich aus, wie die Überwachung und deren politische Kontrolle in den USA funktioniert. "Secure flight" hieß nur anders, es tat dasselbe, was "CAPPS II" verboten wurde. Es ist also recht klar, was von den US-Zusicherungen bezüglich Datenschutz und der Europäischen "Passenger Name Records" zu halten ist.
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The Transportation Security Agency, operating under the auspices of Homeland Security, had publicly pledged two years ago--in official notices describing the Secure Flight program--that it "will not receive" or have access to dossiers on American travelers compiled by a Beltway contractor.

That promise turned out to be untrue, according to a report published Friday by DHS' privacy office. The commercial data "made its way directly to TSA, contrary to the express statements in the fall privacy notices about the Secure Flight program," the report says.

The report, and a second one critiquing a government database called Matrix, was released on the last business day before Christmas, a tactic that federal agencies and publicly traded companies sometimes use to avoid drawing attention to critical findings. Neither report appears on the or home pages, or even on the home page of the DHS privacy office, but rather was linked to from a subpage on the DHS privacy site.


Secure Flight was born in September 2004 when DHS ordered airlines to hand over the complete records of all passengers who traveled on a domestic flight in the month of June--which were in turn linked with information on those passengers drawn from commercial databases. (Secure Flight, which was put on hold in February in large part because of privacy concerns, was the successor to DHS' Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System.)

The agency's Secure Flight contractor, a McLean, Va.-based company called EagleForce, bought databases with personal information on Americans from three data-mining firms: Acxiom, Insight America and Qsent. The data included U.S. citizens' names, gender, spouse's names, address, date of birth, and in some cases Social Security numbers.


The second report released Friday represents a postmortem of a defunct project called the Matrix, or the Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange. Matrix ended in April 2005. (Click on "Matrix Report" for a PDF version.)

DHS provided most of the funding for Matrix, $8 million in 2003, with the Department of Justice tossing in $4 million. Operated by Seisint, which is now part of LexisNexis, the pilot project involved information sharing between state government, federal government, and commercial databases. At least 13 states participated, including California, Texas and New York.


Also raising questions was the unwillingness of LexisNexis and the participating governments to give a complete list of information accessible through Matrix. But a page captured by from the former Web site lists records from criminal histories, driver's licenses and motor vehicle registrations, court documents, property ownership, professional licenses, and commercial databases including telephone directories. Other reports have said Social Security numbers, speeding tickets, and family members also are included.


DHS' privacy office said Friday that Matrix "was undermined, and ultimately halted, in large part because it did not have a comprehensive privacy policy from the outset to provide transparency about the project's purpose and practices and protect against mission creep or abuse."

Full Article by Declan McCullagh

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edited by Harkank
published on: 2006-12-24
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