TSA breaks pledge regarding collection of airline passenger data

By Land Line staff

In a move that will likely only heighten the fears in the trucking industry, Transportation Security Administration officials went back on their word – the agency collected personal information about airline passengers even after officials said it wouldn’t.

TSA officials had said previously that the agency would not store airline passenger data and, in fact, is prevented from doing so by the Privacy Act of 1974, which prohibits the government from keeping a secret database.

The TSA had also been ordered by Congress not to collect and store such information.

Now if all of that protected personal information hoopla sounds familiar, it’s because it is.

In the March/April issue of Land Line, TSA spokeswoman Deidre O’Sullivan said that all subcontractors – like USIS Commercial Services Inc., which is in the mix for collecting data for the hazmat background checks and does business under the trade name of DAC Services – are not allowed to integrate any of the information from the hazmat background checks into any other database they maintain.

However, neither assurance of privacy came through in the case of the airline passengers’ information.

The Associated Press reported that a TSA contractor used three data brokers to collect information about U.S. citizens who flew on commercial airlines in June 2004. The data was collected by the third-party contractor as part of a test for an anti-terrorism screening program called Secure Flight.

The contractor, EagleForce Associates, combined the data with data from three other contractors to include first, middle and last names; home addresses and phone numbers; birthdates; name suffixes; second surnames; first names of spouses; gender; second addresses; third addresses; ZIP codes; and latitude and longitude of addresses.

As if that weren’t enough, EagleForce then put the information onto CD-ROMs and provided them to TSA for use in watch-list match testing.

Truckers across the country, as well as the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, have raised concerns about TSA’s use of private, third-party contractors in its background checks of hazmat drivers.

The checks started this year amid an outcry that one of the subcontractors involved is USIS, which does business under the trade name of DAC Services. Truckers know DAC Services because of its business collecting and selling drivers’ employment information to carriers.