Nov 212009
 November 21, 2009  Court, Surveillance Comments Off on Court: TSA went too far in searching luggage brings us news of a court opinion that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees engaged in an unreasonable search of a passenger’s luggage and that the child pornography they uncovered should be suppressed. In United States v. McCarty, the court held:

Despite the testimony indicating that the TSA employees searched the photographs solely to determine if any children were in harm’s way, the government argues that the search was nonetheless proper because Andrade was required to inspect the photographs for sheet explosives. Pl.’s Nov. 3 Suppl. Opp’n 2-6. The court readily accepts that a packet of photographs may cause a dense item alarm and TSA protocol requires the TSA employee to ensure that the photographs do not include any sheet explosives. The testimony, however, does not establish that Andrade and Moniz examined the photographs for sheet explosives — rather, after they noticed the photographs that were initially visible, they inspected the content of additional photographs for the purpose of determining their criminal nature.


Oct 152009
 October 15, 2009  Govt, Surveillance, U.S. Comments Off on Wronged travelers to get new system for filing complaints

Alice Lipowicz reports:

The Homeland Security Department has agreed to replace its existing information technology support for the Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP) with a more effective system, according to a new report from DHS Inspector General Richard Skinner.

The support system is an existing system of the Transportation Security Administration. The system was expanded and modified to form the backbone of the multiagency TRIP created in 2007 to deal with travelers’ complaints about errors in watch list databases, document information and other problems.

However, the redress program still needs improvement in security, privacy, reliability, timeliness, transparency and performance management, Skinner said in the report made available Oct. 13.

Read more on FCW.

From the report:

Email Submissions of Personal Information May Expose Redress-Seekers to Avoidable Risks

TRIP offers redress-seekers three options for submitting travel inquiries and supporting identifying information: its secure online portal, conventional mail, and email. However, TRIP redressseekers who initiate requests online can submit copies of identifying documents, such as passports and drivers’ licenses, only by mail or email.

The TRIP website assures the public that the program takes precautions to protect redress-seekers’ personally identifiable information. For example, TSA has established system security features and protocols to protect the TRIP website and the information in its case management system. However, one of the program’s options for gathering information from redressseekers— email—potentially exposes the information to risk of interception by third parties.

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Oct 072009
 October 7, 2009  Govt, Surveillance, U.S. Comments Off on Airport developments: strip searches, Clear program notes:

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has plans to greatly expand its use of whole body imaging machines at airports around the country. The x-ray machines, which each cost over $100,000, capture detailed, graphic images of passengers’ naked bodies. In June, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a measure that would restrict TSA’s use of these machines. The measure is pending in the Senate. The Privacy Coalition has urged the Department of Homeland Security to suspend the program until privacy and security risks can be fully evaluated. EPIC has also filed Freedom of Information Act requests for the contracts with the vendor Rapiscan.

Also affecting airport travelers: Scott Powers reports in the Chicago Tribune that three companies are bidding to take over the Clear Registered Travel program.

But now at least three companies, including FLO Corp., which ran a separate registered traveler program in Reno, Nev., are bidding to buy Clear’s customer lists and re-establish the service. Orlando International, which was the first Clear airport in 2005 and hosted the most registered travelers, may be the location the companies want most.

“It’s the plum,” FLO managing partner Fred Fischer said. “It’s the peach.”

FLO, a Delaware corporation; Henry Inc. of California; and at least one other bidder that has not been publicly identified have made formal pitches to Morgan Stanley, which gained control of the assets after Clear’s parent company, Verified Identity Pass, shut down June 22.

Sep 212009
 September 21, 2009  Govt, Surveillance, U.S. Comments Off on TSA needs privacy IT tools, IG says

Alice Lipowicz reports:

The Transportation Security Administration should deploy automated tools to test and monitor the effectiveness of privacy safeguards in its programs, according to a new report from Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner.

In a report issued Sept. 18, Skinner recommended that TSA’s Office of the Chief Information Officer implement such tools, and the agency’s officials agreed with the recommendation.

Read more in Federal Computer Week.