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Thursday, July 7, 2005 10:11 pm

common sense

The Transportation Security Administration is the all-knowing, all-seeing federal agency in charge of taking our shoes off at airports — and our heroic leaders there have recently rooted out a treasure trove of invaluable data. Unfortunately, it’s not information about some secret cell of terrorists — it’s a trove of your personal information and mine.

If you flew in June 2004, TSA snoops now have a file on you — even though Congress specifically told them not to collect such data. Agency officials promised that they wouldn’t, but TSA secretly did it anyway, amassing such passenger records as our names, phone numbers, and credit-card info.

Worse, the TSA contracted the data tabulation to a private corporation, which used other databases to compile full profiles on us, including home addresses, spouses, and — be very worried — the exact latitudes and longitudes of our homes! There’s a law against secret government databases, and TSA earlier pledged to Congress that it would not store commercial data on air passengers — but there the info is, stored in TSA computers.

Not to worry, say the Bushites in charge, for this is just a test of a new ID-verification system. Even if the TSA broke its promises, tried to circumvent the law, and failed to produce a system that won the required approval of the Government Accountability Office, the Bushites insist that they can be trusted with people’s personal data because the ID system “is built on an airtight privacy platform.”

Do you have “sap” written on your forehead? These people thumbed their noses at Congress; why would they let some bureaucratic privacy code stop them from ransacking our personal information? Instead of being trusted, they ought to be prosecuted.


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