Jul 30 2010

Washington Post: “Secure Flight may be making your privacy less secure”

We’re quoted today in the Washington Post in a story by Christopher Elliott about how airlines are able to use personal information — collected under government duress for the TSA’s Secure Flight passenger surveillance and control scheme — for the airlines’ own marketing and other purposes.

“Could it be that the information we give airlines doesn’t belong to anyone or, worse, isn’t regulated by anyone?” Elliott asks.

A good question — and “privacy” may be the least of the problems with Secure Flight, as discussed in our testimony (quoted from, in part, in the Post story) at the TSA’s only public hearing on Secure Flight, our more detailed written comments submitted to the TSA, and our FAQ about Secure Flight.

Jul 30 2010

DHS plays politics with FOIA requests

The Associated Press reports that the Department of Homeland Security has been delaying responses to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests — possibly including ours — while they are “reviewed’ by top political advisors:

[T]he Homeland Security Department detoured hundreds of requests for federal records to senior political advisers for highly unusual scrutiny, probing for information about the requesters and delaying disclosures deemed too politically sensitive….

The special reviews at times delayed the release of information to Congress, watchdog groups and the news media for weeks beyond the usual wait….

Political staffers reviewed information requests submitted by reporters and other citizens as a way to anticipate troublesome scrutiny. Days after the nearly catastrophic Christmas Day bombing attempt aboard a Detroit-bound airliner, they asked whether news media or other organizations had filed records requests about the attack.

[To confirm whether our requests were among those improperly delayed or subjected to political scrutiny, we’ve filed new FOIA requests for the documents released to the AP and for all records of the processing of our previous FOIA requests and appeals.]