Imagine you have just graduated from college and accepted a job offer overseas. Every four months you plan to travel by plane and visit your family in America. What if you discovered Big Brother was watching you simply because you routinely chose the same method of ticket payment, sat in the same area of the plane and ordered the same food every time you took a flight?
Does this seem dangerous? Well, for the last four years the government has held this secret.
According to a Paula Zahn NOW CNN television segment that aired Dec. 1, the government has been assigning a score to travelers who leave or enter the United States by air, land or sea to see how likely it is they are a terrorist or a criminal.
The details of the program, known as the Automated Targeting System, or ATS, were only released last month. Kelli Arena, the CNN justice correspondent, said for the last four years computers have been assessing everything from how you paid for your tickets to what type of meal you ordered, meaning that the program was being conducted questionably.
The government has not acted in accordance with the Privacy Act because it did not provide public notice of the fact that this system was in place, explain how it works and informing the citizens of our rights.
The most disturbing part of the program is that travelers have no control over whether they are labeled as a threat, and all information can be kept for up to 40 years.
Security experts said the program will inevitably mislabel innocent citizens as possible terrorists or criminals when indeed they are not, according to Arena. The detriment of such a mishap may cause many people to be denied jobs.
Mia Small for the Editorial Board.