Pubdate: Wed, 18 Apr 2001
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2001 The New York Times Company
Section: Opinion/Letters to the Editor
Author: Mark S. Arisohn


To the Editor:

You report that Amtrak shares information about its passengers with the 
Drug Enforcement Administration and receives a 10 percent cut of assets 
seized from drug couriers (Week in Review, April 15). For the fee, Amtrak, 
without being asked or subpoenaed to produce information about any person 
in particular, simply reveals all its passengers' names, itineraries and 
payment methods to the drug enforcement agency.

What other companies are selling information about their customers to the 
government? Does the F.B.I. know what books we buy or what videos we rent? 
Does the Internal Revenue Service know about our routine banking practices 
or to whom we send overnight letters and packages?

Big Brother appears to be watching more than ever. What's shocking is that 
routine information about us is in effect being sold to the government as a 
regular part of at least one company's "program." I want to know what other 
companies are doing the same thing.


New York, April 16, 2001

The writer is a lawyer.
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