Of Course This Was Coming. (Did You Think TSA's PreCheck Would Stop At Just Sticking A Finger In Your Personal Data?)
There's a story at The Hill by Thomas P. Bossert about where the TSA is going with PreCheck:
You know those PreCheck lanes at the airport that promise expedited screening? The TSA wants to fill them and it has come up with a troubling new twist on an old, contentious scheme to do it. While Congress and the rest of us were slipping out for the holidays, the TSA quietly published its intent to hire big data companies to solicit you for PreCheck enrollment, and seek your consent to mine your grocery receipts, your credit card purchases, and even your Facebook posts to determine if you are a terrorist risk - not just once but on an ongoing basis.
The TSA's approach raises serious concerns about citizen privacy, and security...
...TSA hopes to not tell you what exactly their private sector contractors will collect or what they will use to determine your suitability for reduced screening. The government will remind you that the program is voluntary, rightly. But, how do we give informed consent? It is unknown what predictive factors will be used in the algorithm to determine whether a passenger is a threat.
Beware what you post on social media while you are enrolled in PreCheck - it is fair game, according to the TSA's request for proposals. It is also unclear whether the information collected by the agency's private sector contractors could be used for other government or private purposes. The type of information collected appears to be unlimited and the government will not say what these big data companies may or may not collect. Worse, if you are rejected by a private sector contractor, you may never know why.
The privacy and civil liberties implications alone are astounding. But, there is a more important issue. The TSA is gambling with the security of civil aviation and expanding its scope irresponsibly. The problem with computerized passenger profiling is that it simply does not work.
Frequent flyer miles might be a factor in the secret algorithm. However, Mohamed Atta, a ringleader and 9/11 hijacker, had a frequent-flyer gold card. Current members of the military are considered low risk by the TSA. Yet, Nidal Hasan, the convicted Fort Hood shooter, was a U.S. Army Major. Perhaps the algorithm will be programmed to trust doctors. Yet, the attempted 2007 car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow were planned and executed by doctors.
According to a recent report on Homeland Security News Wire, "about 40 percent of lone-wolf terrorists are driven by mental illness, not ideology."
If you voluntarily submit for a PreCheck background check and are green-lighted by the big data companies who have fed your discoverable personal data into their algorithms, you are promised quicker transit through airport security, dedicated faster moving lines, and you will not be asked to remove your belt, shoes, liquids and gels. If you do not, you are guaranteed the opposite. So, either these security measures--removal of belts, shoes, liquids and gels--are unnecessarily kept in place to drive passengers into the allure of PreCheck, or they are prudent flight security measures waived by the TSA because it is willing to gamble on the effectiveness of its prescreening. Either conclusion is unsettling.
Of course, the place to profile people is before they get to the airport, and the way to do that is using highly trained intelligence officers operating according to -- yes, that old Constitution thingie -- probable cause.