The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is funding a program that could help
identify potential terrorists before they are permitted to fly. The program,
called the Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening System (CAPPS), if implemented,
would use public source information from airline reservations to profile a passenger’s
background in areas such as citizenship status, travel habits and criminal history.
Prior to boarding, a color code of green, yellow, or red would be issued for
each traveler, designating them as a low, medium, or high threat to airline
“Using public domain information, the system would only examine data
pertinent to the computation of threat probability. Assuming no adverse information
is found, all data collected on an individual flyer would be erased from memory
within 24 hours of flight arrival,” said a DHS official.
After the 2002 Aviation Transportation Security Act passed, the TSA began reviewing
a “watch list” of individuals the U.S. government has categorized
as a risk to transportation or national security.
Despite the ongoing congressional debate over public privacy issues, the TSA
awarded Lockheed Martin Management and Data Systems an initial five-year task
order contract for $12.8 million to assist in the development of a CAPPS II