The Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security are quietly pushing for a set of crazy new rules. All travellers in the U.S. will be required to get government-issued credentials and official clearance before every flight, both within the United States as well as internationally.
And Monday we received a new political action alert from Edward Hasbrouk, The Practical Nomad blogger who's been fighting the plan (and who testified about it at a TSA hearing). "The international Advance Passenger Information System rules were published, as 'final' effective February 19,2008, with no further opportunity for public comment even on the changes from the original proposal."
Hasbrouck sees this as a very ominous development. "The Department of Homeland Security can now evade debate on the similar elements of their Secure Flight proposal by claiming that it's needed to 'harmonize' the domestic and international travel restrictions — as though travel within America was tantamount to and subject to the same government restrictions and controls as crossing international borders."
The stakes are high — and air travel may never be the same. "The Secure Flight proposal also includes new and odious requirements that travelers display their government-issued credentials — not to government agents, but to airline personnel (staff or contractors), whenever the Department of Homeland Security orders the airline to demand themâ€¦ " That alone will create a huge potential for abuse. "The proposed Secure Flight rules would leave travelers hopelessly at the mercy of any identity thief who claims to be an airline contractor (subcontractor, sub-subcontractor, etc.) demanding 'Your papers, please!' anywhere in an airport."
But your personal information faces an even bigger risk. "In addition, the proposed rules would leave the airlines free to keep all the information obtained from travelers under government coercion, even after they've passed it on to the government. Your personal data would continue to be considered, at least in America, solely their property. Not yours..."
According to Hasbrouk, the Identity Project — an organization defending our right to travel freely in our own country — has made requests under the Privacy Act and they "have uncovered many more details (and many more problems) with the U.S. government's dossiers of travel records, which include everything from what books travelers were carrying to phone numbers of friends and associates to whether they asked for one bed or two in their hotel room."
Unfortunately, Monday, October 22 was the deadline for posting public comments on the proposed rules.
But it's never too late to express your outrage... against another act in the continuing project to turn the United States into North Korea.
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