The Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) assigns international fliers, both American and foreign, a score that’s designed to identify high-risk travelers, says the Christian Science Monitor. It’s derived from a set of criteria, such as where you’re from and whether you have a habit of buying one-way tickets and paying with cash. Officials call the program, which started with little public notice and no congressional approval, a crucial tool to protect the nation. They describe it as an extra electronic border that has the potential to catch terrorists and criminals before they get to an actual border crossing.
Some congressional leaders, privacy advocates, and travel executives believe it’s an unparalleled use of data-mining to invade individuals’ privacy. Some European leaders say the Automated Targeting System (ATS) – violates a privacy agreement between the U.S. and the European Union. Opponents wan on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to suspend the program until privacy concerns can be addressed. They say the problem is that there’s no way for individual to determine that he or she has been flagged. “For the first time, a dossier is being built on me and every other innocent citizen that tracks information on them,” says Kevin Mitchell of the Business Travel Coalition in Radnor, Pa.