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Interested in PreCheck Enrollment? Prepare to Share Your Social Media Feed & Shopping Habits

TSA plans to outsource PreCheck background checks to the private sector and expand personal data scope has some frequent flyers concerned.

When the TSA announced in December that it would seek assistance from the private sector to aid in expanding its PreCheck security program, there were concerns that social media and other personal data could be used in conducting background checks. With little explanation, the TSA pulled the request for proposal on February 7, citing a need to amend some of the language in the request.

More than a month later, the request remains amiss. FlyerTalk reached out to TSA spokesman Ross Feinstein to determine where the request was at this point. In an email, Feinstein explained:

TSA is actively reviewing the recently issued Request for Proposal (RFP) to ensure that proposals it may elicit are designed to protect the privacy, confidentiality, civil rights and civil liberties of passengers.

Of particular concern was a section in the scope of work that noted private companies could use “other publicly available information such as directories, press reports, location data and information that individuals post on blogs and social media sites,” as well as retail purchases, as part of the standard background checks.

This prompted groups like the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) to question the implementation of such a plan. “How secure is the biometric and personal data? What happens to the data if these companies go out of business? Is that data then just for sale to whoever decides to buy the company?” Greeley Koch, executive director of the ACTE, asked The New York Times. “We’re not against the idea, but we’re concerned about the execution.”

The Times noted there is “strong political resistance to government collection of private data beyond the simple background checks now used for PreCheck,” despite the wide amount of information that is readily available with respect to consumer behavior. Security experts predict TSA will reissue the RFP with “modifications to the more contentious language.”

The PreCheck program currently has around 950,000 members, and the TSA is working to increase traveler enrollment.

“As always, TSA continues to enhance its layered security approach through state-of-the-art technologies, improved passenger identification techniques and trusted traveler programs, and best practices to strengthen transportation security across all modes of transportation,” Feinstein told FlyerTalk. “TSA is interested in exploring ways to work with the private sector to expand and strengthen the TSA PreCheck program.”

[Photo: iStock]

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infinite97 March 13, 2015

Enrollment is too easy. Flyers should have to take a knowledge test before being allowed to use precheck.