Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


The Big Privacy Picture

Smart Borders: A wholesale information sharing and surveillance regime” is Krista Boa’s overview of the amorphous and opaque ‘Smart Border’ program:

Smart Borders encompasses a range of individual and cooperative initiatives, including US-VISIT, biometric passports in both nations, automated passenger risk assessment, and no fly lists among many others, all of which put privacy rights at risk and increase the potential for mass surveillance exponentially in the name of increasing national security. While the Action Plan Status Reports and general government information (what little there is) about Smart Borders repeatedly state that information will be shared in compliance with the privacy laws of both countries, I am hard pressed to see how this works in practice. (The documents never specify any particular law(s), but imply they will comply with any and/or all laws.) Even if each component program can be made to fit the letter of the law, Smart Borders cannot, by its very magnitude, be made to fit the spirit of the law.

It’s worth reading. It’s also worth realizing the extent to which national law is being subverted by laundering proposals through international agreements, not subject to normal democratic negotiation or oversight.