Filter looks at the day's top technology news through snapshots and analysis of what the world's media outlets are covering. Washingtonpost.com's new Mon.-Fri. feature is penned by technology reporter Cynthia L. Webb. If a technology story breaks, a company falters or triumphs, or there's a new trend in technology, Filter wants you to know about it.
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David Sobel, general counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told The Washington Post: "The effectiveness was never demonstrated, and we always thought it was likely to provide a false sense of security and divert resources."
Lara Flint of the Center for Democracy and Technology told Wired News: "This announcement shows that unless you take privacy into account in a serious way from the beginning, a program like this can't survive," Flint said. "But frankly the announcement leaves a lot of unanswered questions."
Wired News: Passenger Screening Sytem Dead
Former Congressman Bob Barr (R-Ga.), chairman of the American Conservative Union Foundation's 21st Century Center for Privacy and Freedom echoed this sentiment. According to the Washington Times, Barr said he would be "'sleeping with one eye open' to ensure the program is not resurrected. 'You can never be absolutely certain that a proposal like this is dead. You can shoot it, stab it, cut its head off, drive a stake through its heart, burn it, scatter the ashes – and still it might pop up somewhere else."
An article on MSNBC.com reported that David Stone of the TSA said complaints from privacy groups and lawsuits raised serious questions about the program. "Airlines, some of them facing lawsuits, have been caught up in the controversy because they provided passenger information for use in testing the screening system," the article said. Information Week reported: "'The airline industry itself wasn't opposed to having a way to 'separate the good guys from the bad guys,' says Doug Wills, VP of communications for the Air Transport Association, an airline trade organization. "That approach makes sense, but [CAPPS II] was derailed because the government couldn't figure out the privacy piece.'"
The DHS in a posting on its Web site from last year about CAPPS II discusses what it considers facts and myths about the program. Stay tuned to Filter and the DHS Web site for more details about what could become "Capps II, Part II."
Steal Your Face
President Bush yesterday signed a bill that toughens penalties against identity thieves. Congress passed the legislation "in response to evidence that the problem is growing rapidly as more Americans use the Internet to shop and manage their personal finances. The Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act adds two years to prison sentences for criminals convicted of using stolen credit card numbers and other personal data to commit crimes. Violators who use that data to commit 'terrorist offenses' would get five extra years," washingtonpost.com reported. "Like other forms of stealing, identity theft leaves the victim poorer and feeling terribly violated," Bush said at a White House signing ceremony, wp.com noted. "The criminal can quickly damage a person's lifelong effort to build a good credit rating."
CNET's News.com noted just how much identity theft has grown. "Though solid numbers are hard to come by, identity fraud has been called the fastest-growing crime in the United States, affecting millions of Americans at a cost of billions of dollars a year. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that 10 million Americans become victims of identity fraud a year, while researcher Gartner places the annual number at around 7 million," the article said. "The Social Security Administration says reports of misuse of Social Security numbers have leaped from about 11,000 in 1998 to 65,000 in the 2001 fiscal year. Bank fraud is also on the rise, according to the FBI, which warns that terrorists have relied on false identification documents.
CNET's News.com: Season Over For 'Phishing?'
The San Jose Mercury News today ran an editorial on the new law. "The law is a modest step toward giving identity theft, the fastest-growing crime in America, the attention it deserves. In addition to the stiff sentences, the law appropriates $10 million over the next five years to investigate and prosecute identity theft. With 10 million victims a year, identity theft has become an epidemic and law enforcement can be only a part of the solution. The epidemic won't be stopped until the credit card and credit reporting industries beef up their safeguards to thwart identity thieves before they prey on innocent victims," the newspaper said.
San Jose Mercury News: Go Phish, Go To Jail (Registration required)