Sep 21 2010

ESTA fees: the whole is worse than the sum of its parts

New U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) regulations took effect this month that combine two bad ideas — fees to encourage foreigners to visit the US by charging them more to do so, and fees for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) — in a way that creates new possibilities for travel surveillance and […]

Feb 09 2009

Exit permits, ESTA, APIS, and asylum seekers

According to a recently-released European Commission staff working document, the U.S. Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is not “tantamount to the … visa … process” required for admission to the European “Schengen Zone”, and therefore does not give cause for the imposition of reciprocal visa requirements for US citizens seeking to enter Schengen countries. […]

Apr 06 2020

Airline passenger data and COVID-19

The New York Times published a lengthy but deeply flawed report last week,  “Airlines Refused to Collect Passenger Data That Could Aid Coronavirus Fight.” Here’s the lede: For 15 years, the U.S. government has been pressing airlines to prepare for a possible pandemic by collecting passengers’ contact information so that public-health authorities could track down […]

Feb 25 2020

Is facial recognition at Sea-Tac Airport a fait accompli?

In December 2019, the elected Port of Seattle Commission voted to develop public policies and criteria for deciding whether to approve use of facial recognition or other biometrics to identify travelers at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and the Seattle cruise port. This is a positive step — but only if the Port follows through […]

Feb 23 2020

Greyhound withdraws consent to warrantless searches

Just a week after the publication of a memo from the U.S. Border Patrol confirming that it’s up to bus companies to decide whether to allow law enforcement officers onto their buses to search and/or question passengers, Greyhound has yielded to longstanding pressure and agreed to withdraw its consent for warrantless bus boardings by police. […]

Dec 17 2019

Airports of the future: surveillance by design

As we’ve seen in the ongoing debate over biometric identification of travelers at Sea-Tac Airport, and as we’ve seen before elsewhere, airlines and government agencies want to pretend that each of their initiatives to identify and track travelers is a discrete, limited project, not part of any common agenda for government and commercial surveillance. Don’t […]

Dec 12 2019

Port of Seattle to develop policies on use of biometrics to identify travelers

This week the Port of Seattle Commission — a special-purpose government body elected by the voters of King County, Washington, to administer both the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and the maritime Port of Seattle — became the first airport operating or oversight body in the US to publicly discuss any policy for use of facial recognition […]