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 […]

Mar 23 2020

In a pandemic, freedom is the first casualty

We’ve seen before — notably after September 11, 2001 — how a crisis can result in damage to rights and freedoms that persists long after the initial cause of public panic. Some advocates for restrictions on individuals and our movements and activities will exploit any crisis to ratchet the mechanisms of surveillance and control tighter. […]

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 07 2020

The nightmare of airport facial recognition

The ACLU has released an important white paper on airport facial recognition by ACLU senior policy analyst Jay Stanley. Citing some of our previous reporting and analysis, the ACLU white paper focuses, appropriately, not so much on the details of current use of facial recognition at airports, but on where governments and the aviation industry […]

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 […]

Jul 14 2018

Greyhound, Amtrak, and ID demands

Changes in Greyhound business practices jeopardize the already-limited options for cross-country travel by people in the USA who don’t have, or don’t chose to show, government-issued  ID credentials. For local transportation, undocumented people who want or need to travel further and/or faster than they can walk can ride bicycles (although there have been proposals in […]

Oct 30 2014

Amtrak admits passenger profiling but not DHS collaboration

Amtrak has admitted to profiling its passengers, while improperly withholding any mention of its transmission of railroad passenger reservation data to DHS for use in profiling and other activities. In response to a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request from the ACLU, Amtrak has disclosed profiling criteria that Amtrak staff are instructed to use as […]

Dec 07 2013

“No-fly” trial, day 5, part 2: What happened to the plaintiff’s daughter?

“Your Honor, we’ve confirmed that the defendants did nothing to deny plaintiff’s daughter boarding. It’s our understanding that she just simply missed her flight.” Neither the public, nor Dr. Rahinah Ibrahim, nor her daughter, Seattle-born U.S. citizen Raihan binti Mustafa Kamal, yet know why a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer sent the email message […]