By Thomas Claburn
January 11, 2008
Hundreds of Americans inappropriately placed on airline security watch
lists and either banned from commercial air travel or subject to
additional screening have also had to worry about identity theft for the
past year. The Transportation Security Administration Web site set up to
help innocent travelers clear their name has been deemed "insecure."
A report issued on Friday by the House Oversight and Government Reform
Committee says that between October 6, 2006, when the TSA launched its
Redress Management System [RMS] site, and February 13, 2007, when the
site ceased operation following revelations about its lack of security,
"[a]t least 247 travelers submitted their personal information through
the unsecured 'file your application online' link."
The report , prepared at the request of Chairman Henry Waxman,
accuses the TSA of "poor procurement practices, conflicts of interest,
and weak oversight." It finds that the company hired to design the site,
Desyne Web Services  in Virginia, was awarded a "no-bid" contract,
that the TSA official in charge of the site was a former employee of the
contractor, and that the TSA did not detect the security issues for
The report also states that neither Desyne nor the TSA site's technical
lead have been sanctioned for their roles in deploying the insecure site
and that the TSA's relationship with Desyne remains ongoing.
The TSA maintains the problems covered in the report have been dealt
with. "Each issue that the Committee has raised has been thoroughly
addressed by TSA many months ago," said TSA spokesperson Christopher
White, adding that the TSA has no reason to believe that any of 247
individuals have been subject to identity theft.
The Department of Homeland Security launched its successor to the RMS,
the DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP), on February 20,
2007. DHS TRIP remains the primary resource for those seeking to correct
information in government databases that might hinder their ability to
More than 17,000 travelers have used DHS TRIP safely and securely since
it launched, said White.
According to a September 2007 report from the U.S. Department of
Justice, that "43% of the names reported to the TSC [Terrorist Screening
Center database] are false positives." The TSC database, maintained by
the FBI, is the source for names on the government's No-Fly List.
"Well-known false positives include Senator Ted Kennedy, whose name was
close to the name of a suspected terrorist, and Catherine Stevens, the
wife of Senator Ted Stevens, whose name was similar to 'Cat' Stevens,
the former name of the singer Yusuf Islam," the House report says.
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