Feeds

US admits privacy breach on airline data

Information grab

The Power of One Infographic

The US Government has admitted that it broke privacy laws in its domestic airline passenger data scheme. The Homeland Security Department has admitted that it gathered more information than it had said it would.

The admission will be a boost to campaigners who want to derail a deal between the European Commission and the US on passenger data sharing on the grounds that the US does not protect personal information well enough.

An investigation by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)'s own privacy office was conducted into some aspects of Secure Flight, the successor to the CAPPS II passenger screening programme which is run by DHS's Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

That programme had already been suspended by the time the privacy office produced the report. Angry at inadequate privacy protection, Congress has specifically barred the Government from operating another passenger screening programme unless watchdogs are first satisfied that privacy, accuracy and security are good enough.

"As ultimately implemented, the commercial data test conducted in connection with the Secure Flight program testing did not match TSA's public announcements," said the report. "Part of the reason for this discrepancy is the fact that the Fall Privacy Notices were drafted before the testing program had been designed fully."

"Material changes in a federal program's design that have an impact on the collection, use, and maintenance of personally identifiable information of American citizens are required to be announced in Privacy Act system notices and privacy impact assessments. In addition, not meeting these requirements can significantly impair a program's credibility," it said.

The Government Accountability Office, which audits government on behalf of Congress, produced a similarly damning report in 2005 which said that the TSA "did not fully disclose to the public its use of personal information in its fall [autumn] 2004 privacy notices as required by the Privacy Act".

The DHS's own report admitted as much. "TSA announced one testing programme, but conducted an entirely different one," it said.

The revelation will be fuel for privacy activists who have condemned the European Commission's passenger data sharing scheme with the US. Opposed by the European Parliament, that scheme was ruled unlawful on a technicality by the European Court of Justice, but an almost identical but technically correct replacement was put in place.

See: The report (18-page / 711KB PDF)

Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Airbus promises Wi-Fi – yay – and 3D movies (meh) in new A330
If the person in front reclines their seat, this could get interesting
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
Want to beat Verizon's slow Netflix? Get a VPN
Exec finds stream speed climbs when smuggled out
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.