KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The new agreement with the European Union requires airlines traveling from Europe to the United States to give the Homeland Security Department a broad array of passenger information. Currently, name, address, phone, e-mail contacts, itineraries, credit card information, and current hotel reservations are shared and analyzed at the National Targeting Center. Now airlines, if they have the data, will also be required to pass on passengers’ racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, and data on health, traveling partners, and sexual orientation.
Can someone please tell me how my opinion of casinos, my membership in the pipe fitters union, the fact that I travel with my mother or my sexual orientation can be of valid interest to DHS? Other than to threaten my liberty and pursuit of happiness, that is? Is this “ethnic origin” thing just code for “identify the brown people”? And I don’t know about you, but I’m a terrible judge of ethnic origin. Are airline employees trained to distinguish between Caribbean and North American blacks? How about Puerto Ricans and Brazilians? And those Poles – they sure can look an awfully lot like Russians. Kikuyu & Luo? Need I go on?
But what am I afraid of? After all
But, under the agreement, that information is only to be used when lives are at risk, such as in a terrorism investigation.
Uh huh, riiiight. Even if I believed that, don’t we hear with regularity how laptops loaded with intensely private information are lost/stolen?
But they do try to reassure us:
RUSSELL KNOCKE, SPOKESPERSON, HOMELAND SECURITY DEPARTMENT: We’re going to be able to connect the dots more quickly and we’re going to be able to provide our front-line personnel with a powerful tool that really can help to save lives.
What they don’t bother to do is tell us just how knowing whether I like men or women or both matters one zot.
What can be done about this gross invasion of privacy? DHS press release and link to documents here.