The AP reports that over the past four years the U.S. government has “assigned millions of Americans and other international travelers computer-generated scores assessing the risk they pose of being terrorists or criminals,” without public notice. You’re also not allowed to see or challenge your score, which—oh by the way—will be kept on file for 40 years.
Among the criteria to determine if you might be a terrorist: where you’re from, how you paid for your tickets, how often you’ve purchased one-way travel, your seating preferences, and your meal preferences.
It seems clear to me that the program, dubbed the Automated Targeting System (ATS), is essentially profiling by another name. Not just “behavioral profiling,” either, unless you really think the government is looking at your choice of chicken or beef. No, I’m pretty sure they’re looking for meal choice based on religious and ethnic preferences.
Are we safer because of this? Maybe. Are we better for it? That’s open to debate.