DHS's "Automated Targetting System"
Posted 01 December 2006 - 01:46 PM
"The Automated Targeting System, part of Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection, is under the Spotlight this month. For Fiscal Year 2007, President Bush has requested $1.94 billion for border security, which includes the Automated Targeting System. The system was originally established to assess cargo that may pose a threat to the United States. Now the Department of Homeland Security proposes to use the system to establish a secret terrorism risk profile for millions of people, most of whom will be U.S. citizens. Simultaneously, it is seeking to remove Privacy Act safeguards for the database.
The Automated Targeting System’s terrorist risk profiles will be secret, unreviewable, and maintained by the government for 40 years. The profiles will determine whether individuals will be subject to invasive searches of their persons or belongings, and whether U.S. citizens will be permitted to enter or exit the country. Individuals will not have judicially enforceable rights to access information about them contained in the system, nor to request correction of information that is inaccurate, irrelevant, untimely or incomplete.
The criteria use to assess risk is not publicly available. ATS also will retain the risk assessments for 40 years (this is your entire lifetime in most cases, folks - Pete), even assessments of people who are not considered a threat.
Although individuals will not be able to view the terrorist profile rating that has been assigned by the government, the data and the risk assessment will be available to other federal agencies for a wide range of activities. According to the Privacy Act notice, Customs and Border Protection has identified 15 categories of “routine uses” of personal information to be collected and maintained in the program’s system of records. In one category, CBP anticipates disclosure to:
To appropriate Federal, State, local, tribal, or foreign governmental agencies or multilateral governmental organizations where CBP is aware of a need to utilize relevant data for purposes of testing new technology and systems designed to enhance border security or identify other violations of law.
Another category allows disclosure to:
Federal, state, local, tribal, or foreign governmental agencies or multilateral governmental organizations responsible for investigating or prosecuting the violations of, or for enforcing or implementing, a statute, rule, regulation, order, or license, where CBP believes the information would assist enforcement of civil or criminal laws.
These categories are so broad as to be almost meaningless, allowing for potential disclosure to virtually any government agency worldwide for an array of actual or potential undefined violations.
Not only does Customs and Border Protection seek to broadly use ATS data, but it proposes to exempt the system from Privacy Act requirements that an individual be permitted access to personal information, that an individual be permitted to correct and amend personal information, and that an agency assure the reliability of personal information for its intended use."
Read the rest of that page (and another link over here: http://www.eff.org/n...6_11.php#005030 ) - this is Total information Awareness and CAPPS2 all rolled into one, complete with mission creep and un-breakable secrecy built in.
Posted 02 December 2006 - 01:06 AM
To make a comment on this issue, do the following:
Go to http://www.regulatio.../component/main
Make sure the radio button for "Documents Open for Public Comment" is ticked
"Agency" : click the drop-down menu down & select "Department of Homeland Security*"
Document Type: Notices
Keyword or ID: DHS-2006-0060 - then click "Submit".
On the "Results" page that comes up, click on the balloon under the "Comments" section (right-hand top side of that page).
Fill out ALL of the "Submitter Info" that's requested on the page that comes up then and type in your comment about how you feel about this proposed legislation/regulation
Scroll down and click on "Next Step" , etc. doing everything required to get it post your remark.
You have less than 48 hours to let your voice be heard on this issue - and your voice desperately NEEDS to be heard on this issue (before it's too late). Pete
Posted 02 December 2006 - 10:10 AM
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The incoming Senate Judiciary chairman pledged greater scrutiny Friday of computerized government anti-terrorism screening after learning that millions of Americans who travel internationally have been assigned risk assessments over the last four years without their knowledge.
"Data banks like this are overdue for oversight," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, who will take over Judiciary in January. "That is going to change in the new Congress."
"It is simply incredible that the Bush administration is willing to share this sensitive information with foreign governments and even private employers, while refusing to allow U.S. citizens to see or challenge their own terror scores," Leahy said. This system "highlights the danger of government use of technology to conduct widespread surveillance of our daily lives without proper safeguards for privacy."
Good article - read the rest of it if you have time. Pete
Posted 04 December 2006 - 01:29 PM
If you have not already added your comment about these proposed "regulations", please do so TODAY! Pete
Posted 06 December 2006 - 12:17 AM
"Homeland Security Extends Public Comment Period for Travelers
WASHINGTON — Under pressure from Congress and the public, the Homeland Security Department extended the time for people to comment on its computerized risk assessment system for international travelers.
The deadline was pushed back from Dec. 4 to Dec. 29, department spokesman Jarrod Agen said Tuesday.
By Tuesday, the department had received 59 public comments. All but one either opposed the system outright as a violation of privacy and other laws or called for better means for people to correct any errors in the data. One law firm representing ship owners and importers sought more time for comment.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., who will become chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee when Democrats take control of Congress in January, wrote Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff seeking extension of the comment period.
Based on a briefing that committee staff received about the system last Friday, Thompson wrote "serious concerns have arisen that, with respect to U.S. citizens and possibly lawful permanent aliens, some elements of ATS as practiced may constitute violations of privacy or civil rights."
The Associated Press reported last Thursday that for four years Customs and Border Protection agents have been using the Automatic Targeting System, or ATS, to produce assessments of the risk that any of the millions of people crossing U.S. borders, including Americans, are terrorists or criminals.
Almost every traveler entering or leaving the country is evaluated by the ATS computers, but they are not allowed to see the assessment of them or directly challenge its accuracy. The government intends to keep the assessments 40 years and the data on which they are based for up to 40 years.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., incoming chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, promised more congressional scrutiny next year of the government's anti-terrorist databases and called the ATS scheme "simply incredible."
The assessments are based on applying so-called rules, which are actually assumptions based on the past behavior of terrorists and criminals, to the person's travel records, including where they are from, how they paid for tickets, their motor vehicle records, past one-way travel, seating preference and what kind of meals they ordered.
The government's first acknowledgment that ATS was producing risk assessments of travelers came in a Nov. 2 notice in the Federal Register, a dry daily compendium of rules and regulations.
Although that notice said ATS would be implemented Dec. 4 unless negative comments dissuaded officials, ATS has been operational for some time and no changes were planned for Dec. 4, Toby Levin, senior adviser in Homeland Security's privacy office told the AP.
The notice was only designed "to give greater transparency" to what Homeland Security was already doing, she said.
In fact, Jayson Ahern, assistant commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, said federal agents had used ATS to develop risk assessments of travelers since the late 1990s, but the program had mushroomed in 2002 when legislation spawned by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks took effect. That legislation required all air and cruise lines to electronically give Homeland Security advance lists of all their incoming and outgoing passengers and crew members.
In addition, Ahern said Amtrak voluntarily provides passenger data on rail travelers between the U.S. and Canada and border agents keep track of many of the people and drivers who enter or leave land border crossings. Ahern said ATS is designed to pick out people who are not already on watch lists or wanted by law enforcement.
Homeland Security's Agen said a new notice announcing the extension was sent Tuesday to the Federal Register and would be published in a few days."
There is now absolutely no excuse not learn about this issue or to let your feelings be known about this. Scroll back up in this thread to find out how to post a "Comment" - and then by all means DO so. Pete
Posted 11 December 2006 - 10:30 AM
"Traveler risk assessments may violate congressional ban
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Officials are debating whether the Homeland Security Department's computerized risk assessments of international travelers violate a specific ban that Congress imposed on the agency's spending for the past three years.
Members of Congress and privacy advocates questioned the legality of the Automated Targeting System, or ATS, risk assessments that have been assigned to millions of Americans and foreigners who entered or left the United States over the past four years.
"It clearly goes contrary to what we have in law," Rep. Martin Sabo, D-Minnesota, said in an interview Thursday. He said ATS is the kind of computerized risk assessment "we have been trying to prohibit."
Sabo, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations homeland security subcommittee, wrote into the agency's spending bills the ban on computerized passenger risk assessments. For the past three budget years, the legislation has said no funds from the appropriations bill could be used to develop or test computerized data-mining tools "assigning risk to passengers whose names are not on government watch lists."
"They keep going off on these wild scenarios on a regular basis," Sabo said. "They should concentrate on making their watch lists comprehensive and correctable."
Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, agreed. "There is growing concern in Congress that this program invites abuse, and that the administration is plowing ahead with it in apparent violation of the law," said Leahy, a member of the counterpart subcommittee in the Senate and incoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Democrats and privacy advocates acknowledged the provision began in 2004 trying to prohibit computerized risk assessments using commercial databases by the proposed domestic screening system, then known as CAPPS II.
But they said when the agency changed the name to Secure Flight and dropped commercial databases, they broadened the prohibition in 2005. One section restricted Secure Flight only to testing and set accuracy and privacy tests before it could be implemented. But they said a separate section, covering the entire department, was added to prevent any use of computerized risk assessment of people who are not already on watch lists.
The ban also was raised by Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's technology and liberty project; David Sobel, lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation; and former Republican Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia, now a liberty and privacy expert for the American Conservative Union.
"We went through many years of debate over this notion of probing into the background of every passenger and assigning them a threat rating," Steinhardt said.
"Congress enacted a specific prohibition on rating innocent travelers and instructed DHS to focus only on those who were on a government watch list. So it is unconscionable for the government to then create this kind of a system in violation of that ban, and without proper notice to Congress or the public."
The department's operation of ATS since the ban was passed might violate the Anti-Deficiency Act, which bars government officials from spending money not appropriated by Congress, according to several of these critics.
That act carries administrative penalties that include firing. It also has criminal penalties for willful violations up to two years in prison, although no one ever has been prosecuted."
So my questions to you today are these:
Have you left your own "comment" about this on this site?
Have you backed that up by FAX'ing and/or phoning your Senators?
Because I can guarantee you that if you don't, this set of 'regulations' will remain in effect and expand in scope.
Help a Constitution out, would ya'? Pete
Posted 11 December 2006 - 01:04 PM
All the comments are listed on the page that comes up then. To view them, go all the way to the right-hand column and click on "View File in original format" under the "Views" heading to open it in Notepad, or on the PDF form.
Hope you're noticing how complicated they make all of this (it took me forever to figure it out myself) - is there anyone here who doesn't believe that the difficulty is by design?
There are still only three pages of comments (which is pathetic considering the gravity and extent of the potential for abuse/misuse and the sheer illegality of this program) - but there are still 18 days left to add your comments.
Posted 19 December 2006 - 12:03 PM
"European Union Questions US About Automated Targeting System
The European Union has asked the United States to clarify the "Automated Targeting System," a federal database that creates secret, terrorist ratings on all people crossing US borders. The European Union asked how ATS is using and protecting the personal information on European citizens. "The information published by the DHS reveals significant differences between the way in which PNR data are handled within the Automated Targeting System on the one hand and the stricter regime for European PNR data according to" agreements between the US and EU governments, the EU said. For more information, see EPIC's Automated Targeting System page. (Dec. 18)"
BTW - the "Comments" section on this proposal is up to seven pages of comments! Have you read them? Have you added yours yet? Pete
Posted 20 December 2006 - 01:15 PM
December 19, 2006
Lawsuit Demands Answers About Government's Secret 'Risk Assessment' Scores
Millions of U.S. Travelers Affected by Giant Data-Mining Program
Washington, D.C. - The FLAG Project at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in federal court today, demanding immediate answers about an invasive and unprecedented data-mining system deployed on American travelers.
The Automated Targeting System (ATS) creates and assigns "risk assessments" to tens of millions of citizens as they enter and leave the country. In November, DHS announced that the program would launch on December 4, but Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff later admitted that the program had already been in operation for several years.
"The news of this secret program sparked a nationwide uproar. DHS needs to provide answers, and provide them quickly, to the millions of law-abiding citizens who are worried about this 'risk assessment' score that will follow them throughout their lives," said EFF Senior Counsel David Sobel.
Under ATS, individuals have no way to access information about their "risk assessment" scores or to correct any false information about them. But while you cannot see your score, it will be made readily available to untold numbers of federal, state, local, and foreign agencies. The government will retain the data for 40 years.
While the publicly available information about ATS is disturbing enough, there are many critical details the government did not disclose. For example, DHS has not announced what the consequences might be of a "risk assessment" score that indicates an individual might be a threat. EFF's suit demands an urgent and expedited response to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed earlier this month, including all Privacy Impact Assessments for the ATS, all records that describe redress for individuals who believe the system includes inaccurate information, and all records that discuss potential consequences for travelers as a result of the system.
"ATS is precisely the sort of system that Congress sought to prohibit with the Privacy Act of 1974," said Sobel. "DHS needs to abide by the law and give Americans the information they deserve about this dangerous program."
Congressional leaders have indicated that they are likely to convene hearings on ATS when the new Congress convenes in January. Today's lawsuit cites that pending oversight as an additional reason why DHS must release details about the system on an expedited basis.
For the FOIA complaint filed against the Department of Homeland Security:
For more on the ATS program and other travel screening issues:
And this is a good way to make the "Comment" process easier for you:
if you haven't already added your own comment on this issue. Are you pointing friends, co-workers' and family to these threads so that they can get aware and involved before the "Comment" period closes? Pete
Posted 23 December 2006 - 11:45 AM
"Homeland Security Dept. Admits It Violated Privacy Act for Airline Passenger Data
WASHINGTON — The Homeland Security Department admitted Friday it violated the Privacy Act two years ago by obtaining more commercial data about U.S. airline passengers than it had announced it would.
Seventeen months ago, the Government Accountability Office, Congress' auditing arm, reached the same conclusion: The department's Transportation Security Administration "did not fully disclose to the public its use of personal information in its fall 2004 privacy notices as required by the Privacy Act."
Even so, in a report Friday on the testing of TSA's Secure Flight domestic air passenger screening program, Homeland Security department's privacy office acknowledged TSA didn't comply with the law. But the privacy office still couldn't bring itself to use the word "violate."
Instead, the privacy office said, "TSA announced one testing program, but conducted an entirely different one." In a 40-word, separate sentence, the report noted that federal programs that collect personal data that can identify Americans "are required to be announced in Privacy Act system notices and privacy impact assessments."
"The privacy office said TSA announced in fall 2004 it would acquire passenger name records of people who flew domestically in June 2004. Airline passenger name records include the flyer's name, address, itinerary, form of payment, history of one-way travel, contact phone number, seating location and even requests for special meals.
The public notices said TSA would try to match the passenger names with names on watch lists of terrorists and criminals.
But they also said the passenger records would be compared with unspecified commercial data about Americans in an effort to see if the passenger data was accurate. It assured the public that TSA would not receive commercial data used by contractors to conduct that part of the tests.
But the contractor, EagleForce, used data obtained from commercial data collection companies Acxiom, Insight American and Qsent to fill in missing information in the passenger records and then sent the enhanced records back to TSA on CDs for comparison with watch lists.
This was "contrary to the express statements in the fall privacy notices about the Secure Flight program," Homeland Security's privacy office concluded. "EagleForce's access to the commercial data amounted to access of the data by TSA."
Another procedure originally thought to enhance privacy backfired. EagleForce augmented the 42,000 passenger name records with similar variations of the spelling of each first and last name so it asked for commercial data on 240,000 names. Many of these variations were the actual names of real people whose records were then put into the test without any public notice, the report said. Eventually, the three companies supplied EagleForce with 191 million records, though many were duplicates."
Feeling "safer" now? Especially since now your name may be on a "watchlist" simply because it's a variation of a name that was actually on a passenger list?
You know, it escapes me why people aren't rioting in the streets about this kind of stuff.
Think this story was timed on Christmas weekend by accident? Pete