Integrity Legal

29th July 2010

In other postings on this blog we have discussed the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the context of both American Immigration as well as national security. This author recently came across an announcement from the TSA about the methods the agency employs in seeking to prevent activity that could be harmful to the public. To quote the announcement directly:

Under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has “responsibility for security in all modes of transportation.”1 TSA uses an operations center incident management system called WebEOC to perform incident management, coordination, and situation awareness functions for all modes of transportation. The system will store information that it receives about the following categories of individuals: 1) individuals who violate, or are suspected of violating transportation security laws, regulations, policies or procedures; 2) individuals whose behavior or suspicious activity resulted in referrals by Ticket Document Checkers (TDC) to Behavior Detection Officer (BDO) or Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) interview (primarily at airports); or 3) individuals whose identity must be verified, or checked against federal watch lists. Individuals whose identity must be verified includes both those individuals who fail to show acceptable identification documents to compare to boarding documents and law enforcement officials seeking to fly armed. The system also collects and compiles reports from federal, state, local, tribal, or private sector security officials related to incidents that may pose a threat to transportation or national security. TSA is republishing this PIA to clarify that the TSA Operations Center will record telephonic communications. The PIA previously disclosed in section 1.4 that telephone calls were a source of information but did not explicitly state that telephone calls would be recorded. Daily reports will be provided to executives at TSA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to assist in incident and operational response management.

Those interested in this issue may also be interested in the type of information that the TSA is collecting. To quote the aforementioned announcement further:

TSA will collect information about the following categories of individuals: 1) individuals who violate, or are suspected of violating transportation security regulations, policies or procedures; 2) individuals whose suspicious activity resulted in BDO or LEO interview; 3) individuals whose identity must be verified or checked against Federal watch lists. The information collected may include the full names of individuals, aliases and nicknames, date of birth, place of birth, age, sex, race, nationality, languages spoken, passport number, driver’s license number, and telephone number, home and business addresses; Social Security Numbers, height and weight, eye color, hair color, style and length, facial hair, scars, tattoos and piercings, clothing (including colors and patterns) and eyewear, description of personal carry-on and/or baggage items. The system also collects and compiles reports from Federal, state, local, tribal, or private sector security officials related to incidents that may pose a threat to transportation or national security. Additionally, the TSA Operations Center records telephonic communications between or among TSA and transportation security stakeholders or other law enforcement or security agencies regarding threats to transportation security. Callers receive notice that the call may be monitored or recorded.

Although many people hear the “your call may be monitored” message when calling a telecommunications service some do not take this message to heart. That said, those making innocuous communications are unlikely to worry about the government recording their conversations. However, there are those who feel that this is still an invasion of privacy. In the post-911 era, the precautions taken by security officials are more stringent compared to those which were enacted prior to that tragic day. This author personally feels that protection and security are important, but those in positions of responsibility should refrain from exercising their power in a rash manner. It has always been the experience of this author that all government personnel are courteous and diligent in their efforts to provide security and maintain the policies laid out by the American Congress and the Executive Branch of government.

For more information please see: US Visa Thailand.


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