Sep 21 2007

The Homeland Security Vacuum Cleaner

An Identity Project investigation into the incredible amount of personal information collected by DHS was published yesterday. Titled “Homeland Security’s Data Vacuum Cleaner In Action”, the report documents how DHS keeps track of your race, what you read, where you sleep and with whom you associate. Wired‘s story from yesterday was followed-up by a front page splash in today’s Washington Post. We are opposing the DHS proposal to exempt most of this information from the Privacy Act., and we have posted forms and instructions on how you can request a copy of your own travel dossier.

Sep 16 2007

Tell the Feds what you think of their plans

The Transportation Security Administration will hold a public hearing in Washington, DC, this Thursday morning, September 20, 2007 on the TSA’s so-called Secure Flight schemeÊtoÊrequireÊgovernment-issuedÊtravelÊcredentialsÊand individualized, explicit, prior permission forÊallÊdomesticÊairlineÊtravelersÊwithinÊtheÊU.S., and to subject us to government-compelled search and interrogation by private commercial third parties whenever we fly.

The hearing is open to the public, and you can sign up to speak on site with the TSA staff beginning at 8:00 a.m. Thursday at the Grand Hyatt Washington, 1000 H Street, N.W. (2 blocks from Metro Center station).

The Identity Project will be there to give our comments in person. We are also submitting detailed written comments on what’s wrong with this scheme. If you can make it, we encourage you to come out too, and tell the TSA what you think of their plans.

If you can’t make it to the hearing, you can submit comments to the TSA online. ÊYou can submit comments anonymously, and you don’t have to be a U.S. citizen or resident.

Sep 07 2007

Ninth Circuit dismisses ID to enter courthouse case

The Foti v. McHugh case challenging the identification requirement to enter a courthouse was dismissed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last week in a startlingly dismissive manner. Despite the court’s appointment the law firm of Fenwick & West to act as pro bono counsel (IDP acting as co-counsel) for appellants after they had completed their own briefings pro se, the complete rebriefing of the case by all parties, and the oral argument last April, the court dismissed the case by means of an unpublished memorandum deficient of any meaningful legal analysis.

Appellant Foti was denied access to the Federal courthouse when he tried to enter it to represent himself when contesting a motion to dismiss in a case he had brought on a separate matter against the Federal government. Foti does not have ID and correctly states that no law requires him to get one – only that there are assorted punishments for not doing so. Foti was denied access to the court to argue on his behalf because he doesn’t own ID and his case was dismissed. Foti then brought another suit challenging the requirement to show ID to enter the courthouse which was then dismissed by the District Court and that dismissal is now affirmed by the Appellate Court.

The two-page memorandum simply states that Foti, and his friend Augustine who tried to accompany him and also owns no ID, “do not have a constitutional right to enter the federal building anonymously.” The court then cited two cases that did not support their statement.

Unfortunately, the question presented to the court was not whether anyone has a constitutional right to do anything anonymously, but rather whether the identification requirement itself is an impediment to the free exercise of appellants many important and protected constitutional rights exercised in the courthouse. This was brooked absolutely no analysis. By dismissing this case in such an off-hand manner the court is desperately trying to screw back on the lid of something they wish they had never opened. However, in doing so, they have screwed the lid on crooked and this matter will not remain contained.

Stay tuned.

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Sep 06 2007

Identity Project responds to proposals for restrictions on travel

Continuing our work to expose governments’ efforts to control our movements through checkpoints, government records of where we go and what we do, government-issued credentials and travel documents, and other schemes to require, “Your papers, please!”, the Identity Project has filed formal
comments recently with the Department of Fatherland Security on its latest schemes
to monitor and control our travels:

  • Comments of the Identity Project on proposed exemptions from the Privacy Act for secret derogatory information from airlines and travel companes stored in personal travel histories (along with records of activities protected by the First Amendment) and used against would-be travelers as part of the “Automated Targeting System”: comments, background
  • Comments of the Identity Project on proposed requirements for passports or other government-issued credentials for all travel across U.S. borders, including land travel to and from Canada and travel by U.S. citizens seeking to leave, or return to, the U.S., as part of the “Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative”: commentsbackground