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Home > World

The war on tourism

5 December 2003

If you’re planning a trip to the United States next year – maybe to launch an attack on a pillar of Western hegemony or to pick up a cheap iPod – you might like to know that the level of threat you pose to the American way of life will now be scored, colour-coded and assessed before you board the plane.

Starting next summer, your airline will pass on to US Customs, without your permission, your name, age, address, passport number, credit card number, state of health, food preferences (which can be used to indicate your religion) and details of your previous travels. In the UK this would be illegal under the Data Protection Act.

In America, the Computer Assisted Pre-Screening System (CAPPS) will then match your personal information against federal systems, and commercially available data such as your shopping habits, to generate a numerical score that indicates the likelihood that you are who you say you are. You will then be colour-coded according to how well you do. Green is for ‘harmless’; yellow is for ‘doubtful’. Muslims and travellers from the Middle-East will automatically be given the ‘doubtful’ code and may require additional ‘screening’ such as having their photograph and finger-prints stored.

An estimated 1-2% of passengers will get the ‘red’ code and will be prohibited from boarding, questioned by the police and possibly arrested. Why not hand out colour-coded romper suits like the nice orange ones they’ve got at Guantanamo Bay?




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