Big Brother getting bigger every day

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 3, 2006

What are your travel habits?

When you fly, do you pay cash or charge your tickets?

Do you fly round trip or one way?


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When food is available, what do you select from the menu?

When you fly, do you have a preference for seating?

These are questions that the federal government is asking as they are researching travelers, especially those who fly, and compiling data on them.

The program is called the Automated Targeting System, and is being run by the Department of Homeland Security.

Basically, each traveler will be scrutinized and assigned a numeric rating, much like your credit score.

And like the credit score, with the high number indicating one’s ability to repay loans, and thus qualifying them for more money, the higher your ATS, the more likely you are to commit a terrorist act … at least that’s the way I see what they’re doing.

And it doesn’t stop with just your flight information. From what I have heard and read, it will also include your motor vehicle records, how many tickets you’ve had, etc.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, “the Automated

Targeting System compares information obtained from the public with a

set series of queries designed to permit targeting of conveyances, goods, cargo, or persons to facilitate DHS’s border enforcement mission.”

The new system will be effective Dec. 4, unless comments are received that result in a contrary determination. I’m not sure whose comments they are seeking.

The thing that gets me is the government says it won’t use profiling to hunt for potential terrorists, because that could be construed as discrimination against certain groups of people.

But on the other hand, they are going to give all of us a rating, and just because we do things a certain way, we’re assigned a figure that could make us stand out from all the rest.

Isn’t that a form of profiling? Just because somebody pays cash — maybe they don’t have

a credit card — does that mean they have terrorist tendencies? If it does, I would argue that the government is discriminating against those who cannot, or chose not to, have a credit card.

So, don’t be surprised the next time you fly, take a train, a cruise, or simply seek a map from your local auto club, if you see somebody with a notebook jotting down information about you and your activities.

It’s just Big Brother, getting bigger all the time.

I found some more information on this:

Grant is the managing editor of the Suffolk News-Herald. Contact him at, or 934-9603.