Thursday, 9 February 2006

USA Senate hearing on "Registered Traveler" and "Secure Flight"

The full USA Senate Commitee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation is finally holding a hearing this morning — originally scheduled for last month — on the Transportation Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security proposals for traveller registration (“Registered Travaler”, previously “Trusted Traveler”) and for surveillance and tracking of airline passengers (Secure Flight , previously CAPPS-II ).

The hearing begins at 10 a.m. EST/7 a.m. PST, and is supposed to be Webcast live. (Note that Congressional hearing Webcasts are not archived, but can only be viewed live.)

Lots of interesting testimony has been posted in advance of the hearing, including the latest report from the Governmental Accountability Office and a categorical statement on behalf of the trade association of USA-based airlines that the traveller registration program should be eleiminated entirely. (Click on the names on the witness list for links to their prepared statements.)

[Addendum, 9 February 2006: Edmund “Kip” Hawley, Assistant Secretary of Transportation for the TSA, tesitifed that further “testing” of the “secure Flight” scheme is being delayed indefinitely pending an internal TSA audit, accoridng to Associated Press and Reuters reports on the hearing, brought to my attnetion by Linda Ackerman of Privacy Activsim . There was no mention of this audit in Hawley’s prepared testimony , and I wasn’t able to watch that part of the hearing. Perhaps the TSA hopes that a narrower in-house audit will satisfy the demands from Congress for a broader independent audit by the likes of the GAO? I don’t think so.]

[Further addendum, 9 February 2006: TSA head honcho Hawley’s oral testimony has now been posted on the TSA Web site. It’s very different from his written testimony as posted before the hearing on the Senate Web site, and says this about the status of “Secure Flight”:

We are in the process of making changes to how TSA operates that align with Secretary Chertoff’s risk-based strategy for the Department…. As part of this continuing review, I asked TSA’s Information Technology Office to conduct IT system security audits of all TSA credentialing and vetting programs. This review, which includes Secure Flight, is on-going but I believe that it is safe to say that many of the same issues identified by GAO are also highlighted by this more detailed review. Rather than address each identified weakness on its own, I have directed that the Secure Flight IT systems go through the comprehensive recertification process, pursuant to Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) requirements…. We will move forward with the Secure Flight program as expeditiously as possible, but in view of our need to establish trust with all of our stakeholders on the security and privacy of our systems and data, my priority is to ensure that we do it right…not just that we do it quickly.

There’s been no comment from the TSA as to the reasons for their last-minute change of message.]

Link | Posted by Edward on Thursday, 9 February 2006, 06:37 ( 6:37 AM)
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