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Secure Flight

The AP reports that Secure Flight, the elaborate program for using data mining to screen airline passengers, has been abandoned. Ed Felton says it best:

Instead of sticking to this more modest plan, Secure Flight became a vehicle for pie-in-the-sky plans about data mining and automatic identification of terrorists from consumer databases. As the program’s goals grew more ambitious and collided with practical design and deployment challenges, the program lost focus and seemed to have a different rationale and plan from one month to the next.

What happens now is predictable. The program will officially die but will actually be reincarnated with a new name. Congress has directed TSA to implement a program of this general type, so TSA really has no choice but to try again.

The program was originally called CAPPSII, but that was scrapped when it grew too broad and privacy-invasive. The program was then renamed with a nicer-sounding name — Secure Flight.

So Secure Flight is dead, but it will certainly be reincarnated. Meanwhile, the government has wasted a ton of money (about $150 million) that could have gone to more effective security measures.

How much value do these rather inept passenger screening lists have? Isn’t it time the government cut its losses and got smart? Nope . . . that’s not our government, which operates like a bad gambler. It’ll chase the millions it already lost by frittering away millions more on a program that hasn’t really worked and may never work. I bet the program namers are working on a new name as we speak. How about calling it “Money Flight”? Or maybe “Flight of Fancy”?

Hat tip: Michael Zimmer

Related Posts:

1. Solove, Airline Screening List Mathematics

2. Solove, 30,000 Innocent Travelers Flagged on Airline Screening Lists

3. Solove, The Airline Screening Playset: Hours of Fun!


Originally Posted at Concurring Opinions

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This post was authored by Professor Daniel J. Solove, who through TeachPrivacy develops computer-based privacy training, data security training, HIPAA training, and many other forms of awareness training on privacy and security topics. Professor Solove also posts at his blog at LinkedIn. His blog has more than 1 million followers.

Professor Solove is the organizer, along with Paul Schwartz, of the Privacy + Security Forum and International Privacy + Security Forum, annual events designed for seasoned professionals.

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