The Centers for Disease Control is asking the domestic airline carriers to invest billions of dollars to develop a system to track all passengers in case of the bird flu or other epidemic breaks out. The costs of such a system would run into the billions of dollars, a cost the airline industry is not prepared to absorb at this time, and they are balking at implementing it.
The CDC wants to be able to easily find, notify and recommend treatment to airline passengers who have been exposed to bird flu as well as such diseases as plague, dengue fever or SARS – even if the travelers’ symptoms don’t appear while they’re traveling.
Health officials are especially concerned about a flu pandemic. Though bird flu hasn’t yet spread from human to human, they fear it could mutate into a strain that does.
The CDC plan calls for airlines to ask passengers their full name and address, emergency contact numbers and detailed flight information.
Airlines would have to keep the data for 60 days and, if asked, transmit it to the CDC within 12 hours.
Civil Liberty advocates also are against such a plan as it would violate an agreement with the European Union.
Barry Steinhardt, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney, said the U.S. government blithely ignored its agreement with the European Union that it wouldn’t share passenger records.
He also doesn’t think the CDC plan will work.
“This is probably physically impossible,” Steinhardt said. via The Seattle Post Intelligencer