On Demand: TSA Co-Opts Lexis Nexus to Find "you"

Posted: July 19, 2008 in Uncategorized

According to intuitive projections,  I had recently hedged a bet that contemporary security demands would pinpoint who we are based on consumer habits.  The determination of US citizenship may be less relevant in a few years if consumer histories and credit reports are considered as qualifying identifiers.   This leaves the burden on citizens to prove their identity on demand.  It is already happening.

Wired Magazine’s, Ryan Singel’s reports for Threat Level:

Fliers who find themselves attempting to fly without identification should prep themselves on what their old addresses were, when their wedding anniversary is and and their children’s addresses.

Knowing those and other bits of personal information in public records will be key to convincing federal employees to let you past the x-ray machines onto your plane.
That’s because under new rules from the Transportation Security Administration, travelers who try to fly without identification now have to do more than just let screeners paw through their bags and wand them up and down.
Now, those who left their license at home or had it stolen have to answer a series of questions relayed to the screener by employees in TSA’s operations center in Virginia, where employees have access to databases of public records, including those compiled by data giant Lexis Nexis.
The idea is for screeners to know that the person holding a boarding pass in the name of Buster Brown, actually is that person. For travellers without ID, they better hope that the notoriously inaccurate private dossiers about them are correct.
The process of comparing answers to public records already caused a flare-up after one traveler was asked whether he was registered as a Democrat or a Republican, which TSA spokesman Christopher White called a “day one mistake,” where a TSA employee looked at the available public records and asked a question off of the information in the files compiled by Lexis Nexis and others.
Another traveler recently reported that officials looked at the tax returns she was carrying with her, that the screeners had the Ohio DMV pull up her photo and that she was asked questions about her family, according to a story from the Lawrence Journal World.
The DMV photo detail struck TSA’s White as odd, saying that he didn’t believe the TSA had access to that data and that there were “much less invasive ways to verify identification.”
As for the tax returns?
“If a passenger has any type of documents, they can present them to assist in verifying identification,” White said. “If she presented an officer with her tax return, we don’t care how much money she makes —  we just care about her identity.”  White promised to look into the story further.
The new rules went into effect June 21, and in the first five days, 1705 people out of 10 million attempted to fly without identification and 59 of those were denied access to the plane.
White says the changes are just about making it harder for a would-be terrorist to board a plane using a ticket in someone else’s name, which would bypass the no-fly list.
The TSA is experimenting with verifying boarding passes at the screening line, which would close the longstanding loophole that lets someone use a combination of a real identity card, a fake boarding pass and a real one to board a plane despite being on the no-fly list.
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