Somebody Pinch Me!

November 10th, 2006

“Mother, may I?”

Should you have to ask for permission from the government before you are allowed to get on a plane or cruise ship?

The Department of Homeland Security has proposed that airlines and cruise ships be required to get individual permission (”clearance”) from the DHS for each individual passenger on all flights to, from, or via the U.S. Unless the answer is “Yes” — if the answer is “no” or “maybe”, or if the DHS doesn’t answer at all — the airline wouldn’t be allowed to give you a boarding pass, or let you or your luggage on the plane or ship.

The Identity Project, along with the World Privacy Forum and John Gilmore, has filed comments with the DHS objecting to this proposal as a violation of international human rights, First Amendment rights, and privacy and government accountability laws.

This is the third of three identification-related “rulemakings” in the last month and a half in which the DHS has proposed to restrict the right to travel. IDP has filed formal objections to each of these proposals:

  • Expansion of US-VISIT fingerprinting, photographing, and lifetime dossiers on visitors to include permanent U.S. residents (green card holders)
  • The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative to require passports for travel between the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Latin America
  • Conversion of the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) for international ships and plane travel into an advance permission system

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