TSA's CAPPS II Gives Equal Weight to Privacy, Security

Transportation Security Administration

Privacy and security are equal priorities of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) as it develops the next generation of the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS II), Adm. James M. Loy, TSA administrator, said today.

CAPPS II is an enhanced system to confirm the identities of passengers and to identify foreign terrorists or persons with terrorist connections before they can board U.S. aircraft. The carefully limited system is being developed in compliance with the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, which Congress passed in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

TSA officials continue to meet with stakeholders to discuss privacy and civil liberties issues related to the security program. All views will be carefully considered as TSA develops the protocols that define the system as well as the privacy strategy. In addition, briefings are held regularly with congressional leaders regarding CAPPS II development.

"TSA has sought to meet the urgent need to heighten security at airports as we press the war against terrorists. We will accomplish this without compromising the privacy and civil liberties enjoyed by every American," Adm. Loy said.

Lockheed Martin Management and Data Systems is assisting TSA in developing CAPPS II, which in less than five seconds will confirm a passenger's identity and score any potential terrorism-related threat to aviation.

Once CAPPS II is in operation, travelers may well notice that fewer passengers will be selected for additional screening after they go through the security checkpoint; "enhanced" screening of individuals who clearly pose no threat of terrorism will be eliminated. TSA expects to test CAPPS II this spring and implement it throughout the U.S. commercial air travel system by the summer of 2004.

As part of the pre-screening system, every U.S. commercial air carrier would provide TSA only with the information all airlines will collect during the normal reservation and ticketing process.

Subsequently, TSA's CAPPS II will receive scores generated from commercial databases which are routinely used millions of times a day by private enterprises in connection with job candidates or market research and which are already subject to legal and privacy protections. TSA will not see the data used to generate those scores. Further, once a passenger's travel is complete, TSA will not retain any information whatsoever about that traveler.

Some critics have erroneously contended that a parking ticket or late credit card payment would keep someone from flying. This is simply inaccurate. Indeed, credit ratings - bad or good - will not lead to enhanced scrutiny at the airport.

The vast majority of passengers identified by CAPPS II will score "green" and need only normal screening, dramatically reducing the number of travelers who undergo additional screening at the security checkpoint. A small percentage of passengers with scores in the "yellow" range will need to have some additional scrutiny.

Few of the close to two million passengers who fly each day will trigger "red," blocking them from flying and drawing the attention of law enforcement.

"Except in cases where terrorist connections are found, the government, including TSA screeners, will never see or hold the commercial information used to conduct a analysis, which will be discarded when the flight is over," Adm. Loy said. "CAPPS II will dramatically enhance customer service by identifying the vast majority of air travelers as innocent passengers who deserve to be screened efficiently and protected as they fly. The privacy rights of all passengers will be honored."

When CAPPS II is implemented, an independent ombudsman will be available to address concerns of individuals who believe they have been incorrectly singled out for additional screening.

TSA asked Delta Air Lines to provide assistance during the early development of the system's infrastructure to be certain that TSA can obtain the necessary passenger reservation and ticketing data from airlines. This data will be limited to name, address, telephone number and date of birth of the passenger. It will not be used to generate risk scores in this initial infrastructure test. Delta has no role in directing or supervising the CAPPS II program, nor is it conducting any sort of background checks on behalf of TSA.

"We are grateful for the assistance provided by Delta Air Lines," Adm. Loy said. "Delta is not only sophisticated in terms of technology and data security, but has been consistently sensitive to privacy issues, as we have been."

For more information contact:
Transportation Security Administration
Mail Stop: TSA-6
400 7th St. Sw
D.C. 20590
United States Of America


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