U S State Department Travel Registration And Privacy

U S State Department Travel Registration And Privacy



The U.S. State Department offers lot of​ useful information to​ Americans via its embassies in​ almost every country. Especially important is​ information relating to​ the​ safety and security of​ Americans visiting or​ living in​ another country.

When visiting a​ foreign country you​ can register with the​ U.S. Embassy and in​ case there is​ a​ problem the​ embassy will have necessary contact information and/or permission to​ release information to​ relatives or​ others. to​ simplify things the​ State Department now allows you​ to​ register on​ line.

I had registered with the​ U.S. Embassy in​ Bogota,​ Colombia a​ couple years ago. They occasionally send emails,​ for example expected violent protests around election time. They do not sent many emails,​ but I usually find them interesting (and possibly useful).

This week,​ however,​ I received to​ emails that I found to​ be quite shocking! in​ fact they may impinge upon my feelings of​ safety and security rather than help protect me. the​ first email was quite simple. Just an​ announcement that the​ Embassy in​ Bogota had made a​ website for the​ consular section. Really,​ a​ boring,​ non useful and even less interesting email.

However,​ it​ did not take much examination to​ realize that included on​ the​ to​ line of​ the​ email was just a​ hair under 1,​000 email addresses! Oops!

The following day comes the​ next email,​ this one claiming to​ be an​ apology,​ it​ reads exactly like this:

From: "BOGOTA,​ ACS"
To: "BOGOTA,​ ACS"
Subject: Message from U.S. Embassy
Date: Thu 03/29/07 07:22 AM

Dear American Citizen:

Yesterday,​ the​ U.S. Embassy’s American Citizen Services office sent an​ email message to​ U.S. citizens in​ Colombia,​ announcing the​ creation of​ a​ website for the​ Consular Section.

Inadvertently,​ the​ message was sent in​ a​ way that revealed each recipients email address to​ the​ other recipients.

We recognize that this was inappropriate,​ and we greatly regret the​ error. Unfortunately,​ it​ is​ not possible to​ recall the​ message,​ and so the​ most we can do is​ ask for your forgiveness and assure you​ that your email address will not be disclosed in​ future messages.

Please also accept my personal apology for the​ error.

Sincerely,​

Ronald Packowitz
Consul

American Citizen Services
U.S. Embassy
Bogota,​ Colombia
ACSBogota@state.gov

And my problem with his apology is​ that now he identifies exactly who these nearly 1,​000 emails addresses belong to,​ "U.S. citizens in​ Colombia". if​ you​ read my other articles you​ will know that I find Colombia a​ generally safe country to​ travel in​ and visit. However,​ it​ can be a​ dangerous place. Kidnappings,​ though not usually focused on​ Americans can be a​ danger.

For the​ U.S. State Department to​ declare that these 1,​000 email addresses belong to​ "U.S. citizens in​ Colombia" is​ not a​ step toward helping assure the​ safety and well being of​ Americans (or others) who wish to​ visit or​ live in​ Colombia!

When you​ register with the​ U.S. Embassy in​ Bogota on​ line,​ they make it​ clear that they will respect your privacy and also explain exactly how the​ information you​ provide will be used.

Registration and Privacy

The Department of​ State is​ committed to​ ensuring that any personal information received by our overseas embassies and consulates pursuant to​ the​ registration process,​ whether in​ person or​ otherwise,​ is​ safeguarded against unauthorized disclosure. the​ data that you​ provide the​ Department of​ State is​ subject to​ the​ provisions of​ the​ Privacy Act (5 USC 552a). This means that the​ Department of​ State WILL NOT DISCLOSE the​ information you​ provide us in​ your registration application to​ any third parties unless you​ have first given us written authorization to​ do so,​ or​ unless the​ disclosure is​ otherwise permitted by the​ Privacy Act.

Authority: 22 U.S.C 2715,​ and 22 U.S.C 4802 (b).

Purpose: to​ notify U.S. citizens in​ the​ event of​ a​ disaster,​ emergency or​ other crisis,​ and for evacuation coordination.

The information solicited on​ this form may be made available as​ a​ routine use to​ appropriate agencies whether federal,​ state,​ local,​ or​ foreign,​ to​ assist the​ Department in​ the​ evacuation or​ provision of​ emergency service to​ U.S. citizens,​ or​ for law enforcement and administration purposes or​ pursuant to​ court order. the​ information is​ also made available to​ private U.S. citizens,​ known as​ wardens,​ designated by U.S. embassies to​ assist in​ communicating with the​ American community in​ an​ emergency. For a​ complete statement of​ the​ routine uses to​ which this information may be put,​ see the​ Prefatory Statement of​ Routine Uses and the​ listing of​ routine uses set forth in​ the​ systems description for Overseas Citizens Services Records (State-05),​ found at

http://foia.state.gov/issuances/priviss.asp. Lastly,​ while this internet site uses secure encryption to​ safeguard your privacy and therefore any unauthorized interception by third parties of​ the​ information you​ send via the​ internet is​ unlikely,​ please keep in​ mind that the​ Department of​ State is​ not responsible for any such interception.

I would take the​ phrase "WILL NOT DISCLOSE" (my emphasis above) to​ mean something a​ bit different than sending my email address to​ almost 1,​000 others and then telling those people that I am an​ "U.S. Citizen in​ Colombia".




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