CDC Wants Airline Passenger Data To Track Bird Flu and Other Epidemics

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

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • adron April 26, 2006 at 12:25 pm

    This is ridiculous. The airline industry is already saddled with acompletely useless and nonfunctional scanning and security burden. That is costing millions of additional dollars to an already unprofitable enterprise. The Government(s) are making travel of any type completely non-economical in every sense. Eventually it will be either so subsidized or bulky of a process the Government will have to cave in on it’s attempts to control and manage such things.

    This is just another example of pure idiotic Government Beaucracy overreaching it’s boundaries.

    Once again I am offended and saddened by such complacent and outright disregard for what America is and was supposed to be by simple and ridiculous demands such as this.

    Reply edit
  • Mollie April 27, 2006 at 12:12 pm

    Well, I can see both sides. And, as with any other program, government-mandated or otherwise, effective planning prior to implementation would be key.

    But, wouldn’t it be better to err on the side of caution in such cases? And, don’t the airlines already have a lot of passenger information anyway?

    Reply edit

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