TSA breaks pledge on collecting airline passenger data

| 6/21/2005

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.

The Associated Press reported that a contractor with the agency 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, last and middle 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 address.

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.

TSA officials had said previously that the agency would not store this 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.

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 Commercial Services Inc., 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.