If the Department of Homeland Security has its way, profiling and stereotyping will be used against you whenever you try to enter or leave the country. Airlines and other travel organizations will have to submit all of their information on you (home address, meal requests, payment methods, e-mail contacts, name, etc.) for this massive database. This information will be held for up to 40 years. The information will be compiled and analyzed to create a “terrorism score” for every single person crossing the border.
And shared with just about every government agency that wants it. Local. Federal. Foreign.
But what about the 1974 Privacy Act that specifically prohibits secret databases from encroaching upon your rights? It doesn’t apply.
This “Automated Targeting System” doesn’t apply human logic, it is a computer program that only considers objective data on you. Request a kosher or vegetarian meal to avoid the pork? You might just be a Muslim terrorist! Add three points to your score, and let’s give you some additional screening at the security checkpoint.
Over the last five years, we all have become accustomed to heightened security. And yes, it is necessary to keep violent people from killing more people. But there is a clear difference between security precautions and racial and religious profiling, stereotyping, and citizen surveillance.
Not convinced yet? Here are some other countries from recent history that are known for restricting their own citizens’ travel in and out of the country:
- The USSR
- Communist China
- Communist Cuba
- Nazi Germany
This is not about preventing terrorism. This is about allowing the government to regulate your day-to-day actions based on stereotyped assumptions and profiling. This is evidence that our country is tumbling towards a police state, violating its own laws and regulations.
This Tuesday you have the power to change the tide. Who is in power right now that supports these programs as “necessary tools to combat terrorism”? Who supported the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (House Vote, Senate Vote), which legalizes torture and permanent detention of any person the government labels as an “enemy combatant”? About a third of them are up for re-election this year, and you have the power to replace them and put people who support your rights in office.