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Senate votes on CAPPS II passenger profiling amendment

Politech archive on CAPPS:


[This is from Sen. Wyden's office --Declan]

  Just a heads-up - a Wyden amendment requiring a TSA report to Congress on 
the CAPPS II proposal has been accepted as part of the FAA Reauthorization 
bill ≠ which is still on the floor but should be approved by the Senate 

The amendment requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to report to 
Congress within 90 days on what impact the CAPPS II program will have on 
the privacy and civil liberties of United States citizens, including how 
individual information will be used and what safeguards will be implemented 
to protect the publicís rights.  This amendment is identical to the 
amendment that already passed the Senate as part of the cargo security 
bill  -  original language can be found at


The cargo security bill is still awaiting action in the House ; by 
attaching this provision to the FAA bill,  Senator Wyden hopes to move it 
more quickly towards enactment.


[also see below. --Declan]

June 11, 2003                              David Sobel
                                            202-483-1140 x.105


WASHINGTON, DC -- The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
today asked a federal judge to order the disclosure of information
concerning the development of a controversial airline passenger
screening system.  The lawsuit alleges that the Department of Homeland
Security (DHS), Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and
Department of Defense (DOD) have failed to comply with the disclosure
requirements of the Freedom of Information Act.

EPIC's suit seeks the public release of documents concerning TSA's
enhanced Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS II),
which would analyze large amounts of personal data and perform
background checks on millions of airline passengers.  CAPPS II has
been the focus of public controversy since its inception as a result
of the privacy issues it raises and the secrecy that has surrounded
its development.

In March, EPIC requested from TSA any privacy assessments of CAPPS II,
and from DOD information concerning Pentagon involvement in the
screening system.  Neither agency has completed processing the
requests, despite their agreement to "expedite" the process.  DHS, as
the parent department of TSA, is named as a defendant.  It is believed
that today's lawsuit is the first FOIA case to be filed against the
new homeland security agency.

While TSA has repeatedly issued public assurances that privacy rights
of air passengers will be respected, it has not disclosed any internal
documents assessing the potential privacy or civil liberties impact of
CAPPS II.  Nor has the Pentagon revealed the extent of its technical
assistance to TSA, despite an e-mail message from a top TSA official
to Admiral John Poindexter seeking details about the Total Information
Awareness system under development at Poindexter's Information
Awareness Office within DOD.  EPIC obtained a copy of that message
through an earlier lawsuit against TSA.

"Millions of air passengers may soon have vast amounts of their
personal data scrutinized by CAPPS II," said David Sobel, EPIC's
General Counsel.  "It is time for the government to be more
forthcoming about this system and its likely impact on privacy
rights."  Sobel noted that EPIC successfully sought the disclosure of
information about the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness system in
an earlier case against DOD, and that the CAPPS II program appears to
be closer to actual implementation.  "CAPPS II is the government
data-mining initiative that will likely affect the public in the near
future, so the details need to disclosed and debated," he said.

EPIC's lawsuit has been assigned to Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of
the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and is case
number 03-CV-1255.

The complaint is available at:


A copy of the e-mail exchange between TSA and Adm. John Poindexter is
available at:


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