CAPPS II (Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening System) is a new Transportation
Security Administration (TSA) is using to check personal details of every passenger
boarding U.S flights in order to combat terrorism and prevent hijacking airplanes.
You are required to give your name, address, home phone number and birth date to be
checked. CAPPS II uses this information to check the passengers’ background
information and personal details to check it against commercial and governmental
databases. After they check the passengers’ details, the profile is “tagged” with a colour-
coded score indicating the level of security that you appear to have. Based on the colour
or score of the profile, the passenger could be detained, interrogated or have an
investigation done. If the score indicates you are a potential hazard for the U.S you can
be prohibited from flying and entering the U.S. this process is commonly known a
Computer Profiling because it creates a profile of every passenger according to the
stereotype their information matches the most with, for example, a Muslim passenger
would probably be colour coded as someone potential dangerous, and would be
detained for further questions and research.
Technology in this case makes the recollection of data and the checking of information
more accurate because it follows a systematic method and it checks every little aspect
of the person. Biometrics analyses and stores the passengers physical aspects such as
fingerprints, iris, voice pitch etc… Meaning that in case there’s a need to check the
reliability of the passengers’ information, the biometrics would make this easier and
Computer profiling has raised a lot of controversy because many people think it goes
against your fundamental right of privacy and your fundamental right to travelling.
Right of privacy is violated because your personal information is stored in a
governmental database for further research. Other information such as recent
purchases, credit card history, bank account balance, family phone number,
place of work etc… is obtained from commercial databases where all this
information has been stored for other purposes. The information is saved for a
lifetime in a open book to travel authorities. This could represent a potential
problem because no one ensures every citizen that there’s not going to be a
leach of information, or that the information is not going to be used for purposes
other than governmental purposes. Furthermore, it is a violation of privacy
because personal details are saved into a database for a lifetime meaning that
every travel authority would have access to your personal info. Meaning that if
someone would want to kidnap, rob or plan an attack, they would have all the
information they need.
Security issues arise in the moment personal and sensible information is stored
in open book to travel authorities. As said before, no one will give an explanation
in case the databases are hacked or if someone uses this information for other
purposes. This could also lead to some corruption. The reason of this is because
in case a travel agent wishes to change information to keep someone form
entering the country or leaving they have all the information they need.
Technology in this case makes this process easier because the database is open
and available at anytime inside and out of governmental facilities. Databases
keep the records in order and most of them are kept up-to-date because they
are fed by public and commercial databases. So information like, bank accounts,
personal likings and other information is constantly being updated.
Reliability of the system represents another important issue because CAPPS II
could easily misidentify someone and tag him or her with a red label, making
them terrorists or criminals, disabling them to travel in air. This “false positive”
not only means that the passenger is psychologically affected but the
government would waste valuable resources and time. On the other hand “false
positives” is a big problem because it comes into conflict with every persons
right of travelling and privacy. To what extent should every personal detail of
your life be analyzed, stored and become material for scrutiny only for travelling
A list of people misidentified is one of the biggest concerns that people have
over this system. What will happen to the list of names that were misidentified?
Who will guard this list? Will these people be able to see this information and
under what parameters they were identified as being potential danger?
Some solutions for the issues described above are:
Implementation of a Data Protection Act. The DPA gives you the right to choose
who is permitted to view and alter information. If the TSA would like to regulate
this, they could eliminate the idea of an open book to travel authorities and only
have it open for FBI agents or agents with permission too view this database. It
would eliminate the possibility that anyone changes the information for personal
purposes; also it would enhancing the security factor because personal
information would only be available only for those who really need it to check
details and to ensure the security to the nation and not for public view.
Antivirus and firewalls would enhance the security of the database making it
harder for hackers to hack this information. This means that everyone who is in
this database should not worry about their personal information being hacked
and read by everybody, even worst, they would not worry about their security.