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New Air Travel Risk System Stirs Controversy

New Air Travel Risk System Stirs Controversy

Posted - Mar. 7, 2003 at 5:13 p.m.



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News Specialist John Daley reporting It would check background information through a computerized system and assign each passenger a threat level. Civil libertarians, among others, are raising red flags.

This new system would rate each passenger's risk potential according to a three-color system. Most passengers would be rated green and would be subjected to normal checks. Yellow will get extra screening, and red means you won't fly.

The question: In order to fly, do YOU have a problem with the federal government checking such things as your credit reports and bank account activity and comparing your name with those on government watch lists?

Before September 11th, this kind of question was virtually inconceivable in the USA. But that day the landscape changed.

A new pilot program is called CAPPS II--the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening Program. Federal transportation officials say it will use databases to run background checks using a passenger's name, home address, phone and date of birth.

Advocates say the system will make flying safer and more efficient by weeding out dangerous people.

Nicole Dickinson/Clinton Resident: "I THINK I'D BE OK WITH IT AS LONG AS EVERYONE IS DECIDING THE CORRECT LEVEL. I DON'T THINK I'D FEEL COMFORTABLE HAVING A HIGH THREAT LEVEL WHEN I'M ONLY TWENTY YEARS OLD AND HAVEN'T COMMITTED ANY CRIMES OR ANYTHING."

Darrell Dickinson/Clinton Resident: "I'D BE ALRIGHT WITH IT. HOPEFULLY IT'LL KEEP OUR AIRPORTS SAFE, YOU KNOW."

Melanie Cooper/South Ogden Resident: "I'D FEEL BETTER ON THE PLANE IF I WAS SITTING NEXT TO SOMEONE WHO WAS GREEN LIKE ME."

Delta Airlines is working with the Transportation Security Adminstration, but a spokesperson says "Delta is NOT running any credit checks or background checks."

A spokesperson for the TSA says the government will not store the data and says there will be an ombudsman program where flagged passengers can appeal.

"If you're not a terrorist, you don't have any issues," says Heather Rosenker, a TSA spokesperson.

But some have an issue with giving the government "Big Brother" powers.

Ed Bishop/Bountiful Resident: "HOW DO THEY DETERMINE WHO IS AND WHO ISN'T? THOUGH I'M A VERY PEACEABLE GUY, BUT MAYBE I'VE GOT A BAD CREDIT RATING FOR SOMETHING, DO THEY FLAG ME?"

Katherina Spyridakis/Detroit, MI Resident: "I THINK IT'S AN INVASION OF OUR PRIVACY. I THINK IT'S AN INVASION OF OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS. AND I THINK IN THE END, I'M NOT SURE IF IT REALLY HELPS PROTECT US FROM ANY OUTSIDE THREATS OR DANGERS, I THINK WE'RE JUST RESPONDING TO OUR FEARS."

Dani Eyer/Exec. Dir./ACLU of Utah: "THIS IS POTENTIALLY THREATENING OF OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF THE RIGHT TO TRAVEL, OF PRIVACY AND OF DUE PROCESS."

A spokesperson for the TSA told me today that out of a billion people flying in the U-S each year, they expect perhaps a couple dozen would get a red flag and be prevented from flying.

The program is now in the pilot phase. Barring any major changes, it's expected to be up and running by the summer of 2004.

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