TSA’s PreCheck Expansion Stalled By Privacy Concerns

12331437855_48f93c6aea_o-1400x1050In December 2014, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued a request for proposals to private companies in an effort to expand its PreCheck advanced air passenger screening initiative. According to a recent Federal Times article by Amber Corrin, said proposal request was withdrawn earlier this month after privacy concerns had been leveled at areas in which the TSA was planning to expand its program.

PreCheck can be applied for all accross the USA and involves a background check in addition to biometric enrollment into the program. Once registered, a PreCheck passenger can benefit from a streamlined airport security experience at no added risk to the skies of those traveling through them. The proposals that the TSA was looking for, however, stood to greatly increase the depth of personal information examined in the applications process and therein lay a larger obstacle.

The expanded program would ideally take publically available biographical, contextual and consumer data into account when determining a person’s eligibility for PreCheck, and while this method of vetting already may set off a few alarm bells in terms of efficacy and accuracy, the primary resistance was in regard to who would be defining the risk. Namely, the privacy companies mining the data instead of the government.

This speedbump in expanded next generation border control is being met in stride by the TSA, which understandably still eager to work with the private sector to improve PreCheck. According to a TSA spokesperson quoted in the Federal Times, the Agency is actively reviewing the rescinded call for proposals with strong consideration for the privacy confidentiality, civil rights and civil liberties of passengers.

February 23, 2015 – by Peter B. Counter