Saturday, July 28, 2007

What Ever Happened to Privacy?

The United States and the European Union have agreed to expand a security program that shares personal data about millions of U.S.-bound airline passengers a year, potentially including information about a person's race, ethnicity, religion and health.
Under the agreement, airlines flying from Europe to the United States are required to provide data related to these matters to U.S. authorities if it exists in their reservation systems. The deal allows Washington to retain and use it only "where the life of a data subject or of others could be imperiled or seriously impaired," such as in a counterterrorism investigation.

According to the deal, the information that can be used in such exceptional circumstances includes "racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership" and data about an individual's health, traveling partners and sexual orientation.
What does my sexual orientation have to do with anything? Will you be stopped from traveling if you have liberal political beliefs, are Muslim, or belong to a Union? How will they gather such information? Will I be forced to answer a series of questions or be charged with some crime if I refuse? How will they know if the answers are true?
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff praised the pact as an "essential screening tool for detecting potentially dangerous transatlantic travelers." If available at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Chertoff said, such information would have, "within a matter of moments, helped to identify many of the 19 hijackers by linking their methods of payment, phone numbers and seat assignments."
Mr. Chertoff is a complete fool. There were many warnings about the 9/11 hijackers while they were in the United States learning how to fly yet all those warnings were ignored. He would like us to believe that had they known their country of origin and religion and political views before that 9/11 could have been averted? The F.B.I. knew that men were learning to fly but not asking about how to land and they did nothing. They had F.B.I. informants living with some of the hijackers in San Diego and did nothing. Now we are supposed to believe that gathering all this personal information will somehow make us safer?

What happens to this data once it is collected? Will it be sold to insurance companies who will then deny health coverage based on a questionnaire necessary to fly? We are wading into very dangerous territory with agreements such as this. This is the way to limit your civil rights and bring us closer to a police state. The American people need to understand that giving up their liberties for security will mean you will have neither.

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