Hit & Run

CAPPS-II: Undead?


Many people of good will were celebrating yesterday's news that Tom Ridge pronounced the controversial airline screening program known as CAPPS-II dead, largely in response to a wide range of privacy concerns over its use of public and private databases to make threat assessments. Still, the stake Ridge pantomimed through CAPPS-II's heart may not have been combined with the necessary lopping off of the head.

Today Wired.com reports that a similar program will indeed probably be launched, though under a different name. Excerpt:

"The name CAPPS II may be dead, but the process of creating an automated passenger pre-screening system to replace the current CAPPS will continue," [Homeland Security spokeswoman Suzanne ] Luber said. "What form that takes, that's what we will continue to focus on. Due to operational factors (such) as public comments on CAPPS II proposal, we are now redesigning the program itself."

Still, Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Technology and Liberty program, remains optimistic:

"This really was the death knell for CAPPS II," Steinhardt said. "It is finally sinking in at the TSA that the focus should be on physical security, not on background checks of airline passengers."

I suspect it may possibly just be dead until after the election. At any rate, as the Wired.com story concludes,

Any new program will likely not be deployed anytime soon, as the TSA will likely need to reissue a Privacy Act notice detailing how the system will work, collect comments on the notice, issue new rules or a secret order to force airlines to provide passenger data to the system and have it certified by the GAO.