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Your Privacy and Safety, Mississippi Congressman Says TSA Needs to Step it Up

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has more work to do to find a better balance between keeping you safe and respecting your privacy, according to Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson. 

“During times of heightened security concerns there is a tendency to cast aside privacy concerns in favor of security,” Thompson said, in response to two Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports on the TSA’s Security Flight program -which assigns a risk category to passengers to determine if individuals require additional screening or should be prevented from flying.  “To safeguard the American public against such an overreach, it is imperative there is proper oversight of the privacy protections that (the Department of Homeland Security) puts in place.”

In its first report, “Secure Flight: TSA Should Take Additional Steps to Determine Program Effectiveness,” GAO researchers found that TSA checkpoint personnel have made errors in implementing the proper Secure Flight determinations when passengers get their boarding passes Checked.  “Not only does TSA not have the proper controls to ensure this does not occur, they also have processes in place to determine the cause of this,” the report said.   

The second report, “TSA Could Take Additional Steps to Strengthen Privacy Oversight Mechanisms,” GOA found that while TSA has implemented many privacy mechanics, such as job training, they have not implemented a robust method to track and document key privacy issues within the program.

“I am glad that TSA has documented privacy milestones and implemented training programs.  However, these programs must meet government-wide standards and must particularly be attuned to the sensitivities of passengers’ personally identifiable information,” said Thompson, a ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security. 

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