Personal Information Collection Can Beef up Security

Montreal: US Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff told a privacy conference in Canada last Wednesday that he believes security measures can improve travelers' privacy rather than compromise it.
Chertoff said measures to create secure ID and screen people entering the United States improve privacy because they prevent identity theft.
He used the example of his current driver's license, which he said could be readily duplicated by a 16-year-old using a home computer.
“I want to reject the implicit zero-sum premise that privacy must be traded for security,'' Chertoff said in his keynote address to the 29th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners.
Instead of “flipping a coin'' to pick travelers who should face extra screening, Chertoff said it is better to collect a small amount of personal information on the 80 million people who fly into the United States each year. Chertoff said such a collection has “proven, concrete'' value.
He told of an international traveler arriving at Chicago's O'Hare Airport who was refused entry to the US following his secondary interview with a customs official. The traveler's fingerprints were taken before he was sent away.
“The next time we encountered the individual's fingerprints was in Iraq,'' Chertoff said. “They were on the steering wheel of a suicide vehicle that blew up and killed 132 people, and I have to say I am very glad that that individual was not allowed into the United States.''
He said upcoming passport requirements for Canadians to enter the US at land crossings are needed to narrow down the 8,000 worldwide pieces of ID that have been accepted.
The three-day conference dealt with the challenge that privacy guardians face in a modern world that has brought about such technological innovations as data mining, smart dust and information outsourcing.

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