Airline Bar Codes Could Catch Terrorists
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is launching a $70 million bar-code ID system that will be tested in mid-sized airports to see if it is useful in alerting airport security if someone is a suspected terrorist on a government list.
The Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening II (CAPPS II) program will plant a hidden bar code in airline tickets that alerts airport security at the gates whether to detain someone, scrutinize someone with extra attention, or simply scrutinize someone based on routine procedures.
The bar codes will be red, yellow, and green in order of most- to least-potentially dangerous. CAPPS II will depend upon an international database of travelers’ identities, and IBM has completed a $1 million contract for creating an airline interface for a database.
TSA is expected to name a contractor who will build a risk-assessment computer tool that collects and combines information from airline passenger databases, U.S. terrorism lists, and other sources to create coded danger levels.
TSA says the database will not be able to collate information about individuals and will be designed to lack data-mining functionality. Privacy advocates are concerned the CAPPS II program will infringe on individual privacy rights.
TSA’s Chet Lunner says that the searching in CAPPS II will function much like a credit card sweep, and that “the system will have no capability to do its own intelligence sweeps.”
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from InformationWeek (02/28/03); Chabrow, Eric.