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UK Immigration Officer Put Wife on No-Fly List

This is awesome terrible. Apparently a UK immigration officer added his wife to the no-fly list when she was out of country effectively stranding her.

Based on the lack of details and the fact that she could have just taken a ferry not an airplane, this story doesn't really seem that likely, but it's making the rounds and the most important issue here is that the possibility of a single government official working alone abusing the system. While important security databases are poorly controlled, these kinds of abuses are possible.

Speaking of, I found a supposed copy of the no fly list online. Check it out!

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How to Fly If You’re On the “No Fly List”

Tsa Id Check
(Image is in the Public Domain)

Bruce Schneier explains how easy it is to get past security and fly on a plane even if you're on the supposed "no fly list"

Buy a ticket in some innocent person's name. At home, before your flight, check in online and print out your boarding pass. Then, save that web page as a PDF and use Adobe Acrobat to change the name on the boarding pass to your own. Print it again. At the airport, use the fake boarding pass and your valid ID to get through security. At the gate, use the real boarding pass in the fake name to board your flight.

His article on why the no-fly-list and photo ID checks are useless against terrorists here.

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After 6 Years and Tons of False Posittives, the TSA No-Fly List Caught One! (OK, Not Really)

Tsa Id Check
(Image is in the Public Domain)

Reading the wikipedia page, you can find that the No-fly list was implemented on 9/11 2001 and ballooned from 16 names to over 40,000. There have been many false positives including children and some famous people (fortunately some of whom are congress members).

According to this story, all the millions of dollars, the time wasted, and the frustration cast doubt whether the program was worth it. The man described in this article is actually Gerry Adams, a spokesman for the Irish Republican Movement.

It's because of suspected past ties to the IRA that he has been flagged eternally for extra security checks and constant harrassment. Read the story for a well written example of such which includes this awesome quote:

I hand the FBI young gun a copy of my travel schedule – a document that has been in the possession of the US state department for the past month or so.

"Huh," he says. "Why are you going to the White House, sir?"

"To see the president."

"Huh. Why?"

"He asked me," I say evenly.

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No Fly List Bites American Airlines in the Butt

The No-fly list needs to work or be gone
(Image is in the Public Domain)

Public Citizen reports one of their recent victories against American Airlines on behalf of John Cerqueira, who was denied the right to fly after airline authorities thought he might be "Arab, Middle Eastern or South Asian descent".

$400,000 dollars is a small price to pay for taking away an American's freedoms. I hope they eat lawsuit after lawsuit until they fix this issue.

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Trying to “Fix” the No-Fly List

Too bad if you're innocent, you're not flying anyway.
(Image is in the Public Domain)

In a Washington Post article, they address the problem of false positives, where an innocent person is "wrongly detained" because their information is similar to someone's on the no fly list.

A specific example in the article is of Keiran O'Dwyer, a veteran American Airlines pilot who has been stopped and questioned over 80 times since 2003. They say that besides him, there are around 15,000 people, per week, that apply for redress for being mistakenly targetted due to TSA's screening systems.

An agency official said in an interview that the system, launched in February 2006, has eliminated about 17,500 detentions involving people entering the country at airports, seaports and at land borders. It is part of what the government says is an effort to prevent terrorism while not inconveniencing travelers or violating their privacy and civil liberties, though it is not yet applied to domestic flights.
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