Would You Hand Your Data Over To The TSA To Get Through Airport Security Faster?

New documents indicate the TSA is considering a program to data-mine the personal lives of flyers in their express airport security line program.

Would you volunteer to have your Internet history and consumer data analyzed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and its contractors in exchange for a shorter line at airport security? The TSA is betting that most Americans would.


A series of request for information papers (RFIs) posted on the TSA’s website back in January indicate the agency is exploring the option of data-mining travelers who want to bypass much of the security line. As one of the papers put it, the TSA is looking for a target market of “U.S. Citizens, (who) volunteer to participate, and are willing to provide some information about themselves that can be used to evaluate the degree of risk posed by that individual to the aviation transportation system.”

Although the papers analyzed by Fast Company don’t specifically mention browsing Internet history, they do indicate that the TSA and its contractors are looking for personal information above and beyond your standard address and Social Security number, and it’s certainly looking for publicly available profiles of American citizens by large marketing firms:

In the pursuit of the most effective security in the most efficient way (allowing entities latitude to do what makes the most sense for them), this Announcement will take a hybrid approach on development of trusted algorithms. TSA will specify a few common core requirements for process and algorithm content, while encouraging innovation by allowing participating entities to include additional elements in their algorithms as they see fit (as long as they are legal). These hybrid algorithms would have to meet certain performance criteria.

The “as long as they are legal” line gives one pause. In addition, the document stresses the need to get express consent from participants and has another line indicating that vendors could use “various non-governmental and commercial data” to data-mine travelers. Apparently, your Facebook likes and consumer demographic profile could help you get accepted or rejected for express lines at the airport.

Data-mining of travelers would be done by private contractors, not the TSA; attendees at a February TSA Industry Day tied to the program included representatives from contractor giants AgileX, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Omniplex. The TSA plans to finish evaluating the data-mining proposals by the end of 2013. It expects some 400,000 travelers to join its “Pre-check” speedy screening program as it expands.

Several slides from the program, designed for contractors and publicly available through FedBizOpps, are reproduced above.