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TSA looks for terrorist links among transportation workers

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The Transportation Security Administration has for at least slightly longer than a year conducted data mining to look for links between holders of transportation sector credentials and individuals entered into the Terrorist Screening Center Database, the Homeland Security Department disclosed in a Nov. 14 privacy impact assessment.

The assessment (.pdf) says the TSA Trends and Patterns Branch received authority to operate in August 2011 a system that looks for a "previously unknown link between a transportation sector worker" and an individual in the terrorist database, or an individual who fails to present acceptable identification documents when attempting to enter a secure part of an airport.

In doing so, the branch utilizes data transportation workers send to TSA as part of the credentialing process and will use that data "to conduct supplemental analysis of individuals" in order to look for links and patterns that may indicate a threat, the assessment says.

It downplays risks to privacy on the grounds that branch users already have access to all the underlying databases in question. "The search capability merely streamlines already existing processes and capabilities," it states.

For more:
- download the assessment, DHS/TSA/PIA-039 (.pdf)

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