Smile! You’ve Been Secretly Profiled!

The AP ran a piece revealing that the U.S. government has been secretly profiling international and domestic airline passengers for at least four years. In a small notice buried in the Federal Register (where the arcane minutia of government is published), the “Automated Targeting System” was announced last month (a companion to “Secure Flight,” the 2-plus-year-old domestic data-mining system).

It sounds like Total Information Awareness is alive and well.

Passengers are scored, based upon data about their motor vehicle records (often sold by states to all comers), past one-way travel, seating and meal preferences, method of payment, travel destination and origin, residence, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, frequent flyer information, and other data. The data will be kept on file for at least 40 years, under current plans.

You can’t find out or challenge your own score or data, but the government is happy to share the info with foreign governments (to prevent people from entering the country) and even private entities (to prevent people from getting hired, licensed or security-cleared for jobs). Privacy advocates are concerned.

Apparently, at least 45 people a day are refused entry based upon the scoring. It’s a pity they wouldn’t know why, and couldn’t correct any error.