U.S. orders airlines to release fliers’ data

The US federal government said yesterday that it will order airlines to turn over millions of passenger records by November so it can begin testing a program that will hunt for suspected terrorists.

The Secure Flight program would compare each passenger’s reservation information with a list of suspected terrorists more extensive than the one currently used by airlines. The Transportation Security Administration will also attempt to verify each person’s identity, to avoid to falsely target travelers whose names are similar to one of the terrorist “watch lists.”
Another system to be tested would compare reservation records with information contained in commercial databases. The same repositories are used in the banking, home mortgage and credit industries for identity verification, according to a public notice issued by the TSA.

Privacy-rights groups said they were skeptical that the Secure Flight program differed substantially from the TSA’s plans to develop CAPPS II.

Marcia Hofmann, staff counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington group that advocates privacy rights, said “This is a program where TSA has complete discretion to let you see your information or correct anything that is wrong.”

From Washington Post, via Emerging Technologies.