TDC Computer Idea

Old Aug 9, 11, 1:47 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: WAS
Programs: AMEX Platinum, Global Entry, Priority Pass, SPG Gold, HHonors Gold
Posts: 1,594
TDC Computer Idea

During my many hours of contemplation about how to improve the TSA , I stumbled upon what I believe to be a significant security enhancement the TDCs could implement. I believe they should be provided with computers linked to government and airline databases. Then the boarding pass, which can so easily be forged in this era of OLCI, could be scanned to confirm its authenticity and the existence of the flight. The travelers Photo ID could also be scanned to ensure its authenticity. While expensive to implement, I have seen such an approach in foreign countries, and I believe this would provide far more security than that pathetic TSA magnifying glass and the UV light.

As always your insights are appreciated.
14940674 is offline  
Old Aug 9, 11, 1:55 pm
  #2  
Suspended
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 3,728
Originally Posted by 14940674 View Post
During my many hours of contemplation about how to improve the TSA , I stumbled upon what I believe to be a significant security enhancement the TDCs could implement. I believe they should be provided with computers linked to government and airline databases.
Given the TSA's history of "data protection" (rather, lack thereof) I think that's a terrible idea.

I think it'd be a much better idea to abolish the TSA entirely.
Caradoc is offline  
Old Aug 9, 11, 2:00 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 3,657
1) This assumes that the no-fly and selectee lists actually provide added value to the screening process. I'm not convinced that they do.

If someone is dangerous enough that they shouldn't be flying, then charge them with a crime and lock them up. Otherwise, it would seem more efficient to focus that effort on making sure they're not carrying weapons aboard the aircraft.

2) Let's stipulate, for the sake of argument, that checking against the no-fly/selectee lists is going to happen anyways. If, as you posit, the computers at the TDC stations would have access to those lists, there's no need to validate the boarding pass. The passenger's ID should be sufficient to verify the person's identity and their (non-)existence on the various lists. The airline will validate the boarding pass at the gate; they're the only party with a vested interest in knowing that the boarding pass is legitimate.
jkhuggins is offline  
Old Aug 9, 11, 2:01 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Orlando
Programs: DL 4MM/PM, UA 1MM/Gold, AA Paper
Posts: 1,386
Unfortunately as has been said many times on FT, identity/BP checking by TDCs does not provide any additional security. It is merely assists the airlines in making sure that the person who bought the ticket is the person who is flying on that ticket, i.e. revenue protection for the airlines paid for by taxpayers.

Sorry, IMHO a very expensive, very bad idea, and probably not a very practical one.
OrlandoFlyer is offline  
Old Aug 9, 11, 2:02 pm
  #5  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: DFW
Posts: 19,103
Originally Posted by 14940674 View Post
During my many hours of contemplation about how to improve the TSA , I stumbled upon what I believe to be a significant security enhancement the TDCs could implement. I believe they should be provided with computers linked to government and airline databases. Then the boarding pass, which can so easily be forged in this era of OLCI, could be scanned to confirm its authenticity and the existence of the flight. The travelers Photo ID could also be scanned to ensure its authenticity. While expensive to implement, I have seen such an approach in foreign countries, and I believe this would provide far more security than that pathetic TSA magnifying glass and the UV light.

As always your insights are appreciated.
If you can swing being a prior Secretary of DHS I'm sure TSA would give you a contract for such a device. Wouldn't even have to work well.
Boggie Dog is offline  
Old Aug 9, 11, 2:15 pm
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: WAS
Programs: AMEX Platinum, Global Entry, Priority Pass, SPG Gold, HHonors Gold
Posts: 1,594
The concerns that you have raised are certainly legitimate, and I have little doubt that this idea I have proposed will never be instituted.

On the other hand, since, as has been said many a time, people commit crimes, rather than weapons, isn't their some value to ensuring that the ID provided by travelers is authentic, so we know that they are, as Dennis Green would say, who we thought they were? Isn't this goal best achieved by interconnected computer databases, rather than the "trained" eye of the TDC? I understand the misgivings on FlyerTalk about the TSA, but if intelligence is the key to airport security, rather than Full Body Scanners or pat-downs, shouldn't we incorporate our intelligence networks into the TSA checkpoints, at least somewhat?
14940674 is offline  
Old Aug 9, 11, 2:23 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 3,657
Originally Posted by 14940674 View Post
On the other hand, since, as has been said many a time, people commit crimes, rather than weapons, isn't their some value to ensuring that the ID provided by travelers is authentic, so we know that they are, as Dennis Green would say, who we thought they were?
Verifying my identity tells you about my past. It gives you little information about my future: that is, what I intend to do when I board the aircraft.
jkhuggins is offline  
Old Aug 9, 11, 2:25 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: BOS and vicinity
Programs: Former UA 1P
Posts: 3,717
Originally Posted by 14940674 View Post
but if intelligence is the key to airport security, rather than Full Body Scanners or pat-downs, shouldn't we incorporate our intelligence networks into the TSA checkpoints, at least somewhat?
Intelligence needs to be moved away from the checkpoint, not towards it. If you let a bad guy get to the airport and get in line for the checkpoint, the system has already failed. The bad guy can detonate his device or do his thing in the line to the checkpoint with equal or greater fatalities and damage as if he did it beyond the checkpoint or on the plane.

Take the vast majority of the $ that goes to TSA and divvy it up between CIA for foreign intelligence work and FBI for domestic (subject to all Constitutional restraints); use the remainder for a skeleton airport security operation consisting of metal detectors, hand wands, explosives trace swabbing, and baggage x-ray. You'd have a much safer and more secure commercial aviation system.
studentff is offline  
Old Aug 9, 11, 2:26 pm
  #9  
In Memoriam
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 361
I don't care if I sit next to Ayman al-Zawahiri as long as he has no WBI. He's no risk to my aircraft.
MaximumSisu is offline  
Old Aug 9, 11, 2:29 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: London; Bangkok; Las Vegas
Programs: AA Plat Pro; UA MM Gold; Marriott Lifetime Titanium
Posts: 8,266
If pre-flight/airport/secure area security is effective, as TSA argues, why do we need a no-fly list at all? Who cares what ID or boarding pass someone has--TSA ensures the flight is safe because everyone goes through screening, right?

Isn't the existence of the no-fly list actually an admission by TSA that the security they purportedly provide is insufficient?

"Of course not. We have overlapping security techniques to ensure that someone can't bypass one without being caught by another."

Yeah, right. Tell that to the minimum wage contract aircraft cleaner who freely moves between aircraft without any security screening.
Always Flyin is offline  
Old Aug 9, 11, 2:30 pm
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: WAS
Programs: AMEX Platinum, Global Entry, Priority Pass, SPG Gold, HHonors Gold
Posts: 1,594
Originally Posted by studentff View Post
Take the vast majority of the $ that goes to TSA and divvy it up between CIA for foreign intelligence work and FBI for domestic (subject to all Constitutional restraints); use the remainder for a skeleton airport security operation consisting of metal detectors, hand wands, explosives trace swabbing, and baggage x-ray. You'd have a much safer and more secure commercial aviation system.
That certainly makes some sense. The reason I proposed the computer is because the current TDC work seems pitiful and useless at best. Some (not I) would argue that that describes the entire TSA.

Just one point of clarification. Are you saying that the CIA need not act in a way which adheres to the Constitution when working internationally, or did you mean those constraints apply to both agencies?

Thanks to all for the extremely prompt replies.

Last edited by 14940674; Aug 9, 11 at 2:35 pm
14940674 is offline  
Old Aug 9, 11, 2:57 pm
  #12  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: DFW
Posts: 19,103
Originally Posted by 14940674 View Post
That certainly makes some sense. The reason I proposed the computer is because the current TDC work seems pitiful and useless at best. Some (not I) would argue that that describes the entire TSA.

Just one point of clarification. Are you saying that the CIA need not act in a way which adheres to the Constitution when working internationally, or did you mean those constraints apply to both agencies?

Thanks to all for the extremely prompt replies.
I agree that the function of the TDC as constructed today is a waste of manpower. What you propose would be an improvement over that but why does identity matter if people are properly screened for WEI?

To get an airplane ticket the personal information entered is checked against current databases, or one must go to the airlines ticket agent in person. Now that doesn't mean that person is really who they present themselves to be but would your system improve anything if the person was using quality false documents?

I think my personal feelings are why does the government need to check up on me just to travel about my country? Is that the kind of society we really want?
Boggie Dog is offline  
Old Aug 9, 11, 2:58 pm
  #13  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: An NPR mind living in a Fox News world
Posts: 13,724
Wirelessly posted (BlackBerry8830/4.5.0.138 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/105)

The only way I can succintly respond is to quote a famous tennis player: "You CANNOT be serious!"
FliesWay2Much is offline  
Old Aug 9, 11, 3:25 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 76
I worked on this exact issue for several years. In fact, TSA did test a system connecting TDC stations to the airline reservation system back in 2002 at LGA, and it worked great. Operationally, you could have checked in with only your FF card.

The challenges in rolling it out -- in addition to sheer bureaucracy and Congressional micro-management -- were cost and complexity in dealing with legacy systems across both the industry and the government. Eventually, Secure Flight did link them up, but TDCs obviously do not have a direct electronic connection to Secure Flight.

Mobile Boarding Passes use IATA's M-BCPB standard, which includes fields for encrypted information. The scanners that TDCs use for MBPs are equipped to work with that encrypted information in a reasonably secure way. Forging an MBP to beat Secure Flight is NOT easy.

As for IDs and paper boarding passes, I'm not going to go into the history of all of that because my head might explode...
worldwide viking is offline  
Old Aug 9, 11, 3:40 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 76
Originally Posted by studentff View Post
Intelligence needs to be moved away from the checkpoint, not towards it. If you let a bad guy get to the airport and get in line for the checkpoint, the system has already failed. The bad guy can detonate his device or do his thing in the line to the checkpoint with equal or greater fatalities and damage as if he did it beyond the checkpoint or on the plane.

Take the vast majority of the $ that goes to TSA and divvy it up between CIA for foreign intelligence work and FBI for domestic (subject to all Constitutional restraints); use the remainder for a skeleton airport security operation consisting of metal detectors, hand wands, explosives trace swabbing, and baggage x-ray. You'd have a much safer and more secure commercial aviation system.
Lots of good points here -- I'd like to add comments from direct experience:

1) Screening for weapons deters the copycat bozos and makes it harder for the the professionals = longer attack prep = more time for intell community to do their work. The trick is to get the cost/benefit balance right... (ie., not necessarily big expensive machines that are inherently limited).

2) Screening for behavior does help and has delivered real world results (ie., guys with bomb parts) both in US and overseas. IF IF IF TSA can sustain a training program and employee retention for skilled behavior officers, it will be money well-spent, especially compared to expensive technology.

3) More money for intelligence community? Absolutely. But it would be smart to train TSA/CBP/airport police to recognize aberrations, because intelligence analysis is an imperfect art.

4) Screening for identity is a key piece of applying intelligence analysis to the real world of security operations. Doing that effectively on a mass scale of 750+ million passengers a year is hard -- name-matching, threat verification, identity authentication, etc.
worldwide viking is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: