CAPPS is also known (to the chronically verbose) as the Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-screening System. CAPPS is the FAA's solution to US-based airlines' claimed inability to maintain 100% PPBM with reasonable efficiency.

Since the airlines can't guarantee that every bag onboard an aircraft has a corresponding passenger, the CAPPS system is used to identify high-risk travellers so that they can be scrutinized more closely, along with their bags. Usually this extra scrutiny takes the form of bag matching or screening with an Explosives Detection System (EDS). In addition to selecting travellers that fit a high-risk profile, the system also flags those for which there is insufficient information to make a firm decision, as well as a random percentage of passengers with checked baggage.

The system does not make use of information such as race, name, or sex when selecting passengers for additional security measures. Several studies have been undertaken by the US DOJ and DOT to confirm that CAPPS does not dispropotionally affect minority groups.

Currently, CAPPS is only used to screen passengers with checked baggage. Carry-on bags are still only subjected to the normal security procedures. New recommendations suggest expanding the system to cover all passengers, as well as increasing the pool of passengers flagged by the system. Look for big changes to the CAPPS system in the months ahead.

Well, it looks like they’ve taken it a step further. According to CNN, there is a plan afoot to assign a “threat level” for every passenger that boards a flight.. Sort of a CAPPSII I guess. What makes it different from the aforemention CAPPS?

Well, for starters, not only is your baggage going to be screened but so are you. It seems that when you purchase your airline ticket, the proposed system will check your credit report and any recent bank activity. It will then compare your name to see if you’re on a “government watch list.” In keeping with the recent government tradition established by the ever popular Homeland Security Advisory System, it will be color-coded. Based on traffic signals the colors are:

Green – you're good to go

Yellow – You can go but we’ve got our eyes on you!

Red – to quote Bob DylanYou Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere

There are hints that should the CAPPSII system uncover something about you, it will remain on record for 50 years. Naturally civil liberties groups are up in arms and the ACLU is heading up the cause as an invasion of ones privacy. They also claim that there will undoubtedly be mix ups in the database that will lead to innocent people (remember, you haven’t done anything yet) being branded as security risks.

A little commentary….

I don’t know about you folks but I have had credit mix ups before. I’ve also inadvertently bounced a check or two in my lifetime. If that’s the case and CAPPSII goes into effect, I’ve probably got more to worry about than I thought.

Or the hell with ‘em all – rather than pay my hard earned money to an airline to keep a government file on me, if I can, I’ll just drive.

The new Transportation Security Administration Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-screening System II or (CAPPS II) system is a computer database system that probes into flier's backgrounds and passenger's identities comparing personal information against criminal records and intelligence information.

The system "will provide protections for the flying public," said TSA spokesman Brian Turmail. "Not only should we keep passengers from sitting next to a terrorist, we should keep them from sitting next to wanted ax murderers."

Passengers are assigned a color code - green, yellow or red-- based in part on their city of departure, destination, traveling companions and date of ticket purchase and the background check.

Welcome to the airport police state

The majority of people will be green carded and will have no problems. But up to 8 percent of passengers who board the nation's 26,000 daily flights will be given "yellow" cards and will undergo additional screening at a checkpoint, according to people familiar with the program.

An estimated 1 to 2 percent will be given "red" cards and will be prohibited from boarding. These passengers also will face police questioning and may be arrested.

This is all without a trial or even a crime having been committed.

What if you’re a political activist? What if you have an arrest record for drugs. Or you have an Arabic name? Who decides who gets red carded? And since when can the government arbitrarily take away your ability to fly and or travel?

"This system is going to be replete with errors," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's technology and liberty program. "You could be falsely arrested. You could be delayed. You could lose your ability to travel."

The original CAPS system was put into place after the bombing of an airline over Lockerbie, Scotland. It identifies some passengers as risky based on a set of assumptions about how terrorists travel. For instance, passengers are flagged if they bought a one-way airline ticket, or if they paid with cashinstead of a credit card. Flagged passengers issued boarding passes that bear a coding of "SSS" or "***."

CAPS II takes this further - airlines must now send information about everyone flying on their planes, foreign or domestic to the TSA, including the person's full name, home address, home telephone number, date of birth and travel itinerary.

The passenger's name and information will then be checked against databases of private companies (who’s writing or compiling these databases?) that collect information on people for commercial reasons. Passengers will then be given a numerical score that will indicate the likelihood that the passenger is who he says he is. (What if I'm living off the grid and don't shop? What if I'm a farmer without credit cards?)

Passengers will not be informed of their color code or their numerical score. Then passenger info will be scanned against government intelligence and outstanding police warrants for violent felonies. (How do we know they will only scan for violent felonies?)

If the computer system flags a passenger as a red carded threat, then the TSA will notify law enforcement authorities.

David A. Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, says, "This system is not designed just to get potential terrorists," Keene said. "It's a law enforcement tool. The wider the net you cast, the more people you bring in."

So let me ask you... how was your flight or didn't you make it onboard?

quotes taken from The New York Times

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