BC-Passenger Privacy,0276

Report: Passenger screening gets "incomplete" on test ordered by Congress

By LESLIE MILLER

Associated Press Writer

It is unclear whether a new system of computerized background checks (search) envisioned by the Transportation Security Administration for airline passengers will protect travelers' privacy, a congressionally-ordered report said Monday.

Congress last year ordered the Government Accountability Office to report on whether the passenger screening project, called Secure Flight (search), met 10 criteria, including privacy protections, accuracy of data, oversight, cost and safeguards to ensure the system won't be abused or accessed by unauthorized people.

"TSA has not yet completed these efforts or fully addressed these areas, due largely to the current stage of the program's development," the GAO concluded.

The GAO said nine of the 10 criteria had not yet been met.

The TSA wants to take over from the airlines the responsibility of checking passengers' names against those on terrorist watch lists.

Secure Flight is supposed to work by transferring the airlines' passenger name records — which can include address, phone number and credit card information — to the government, which would then check the information against watch lists.

One problem with Secure Flight, the report concluded, is that the government doesn't know if there are mistakes in the terrorist watch lists (search).