If you thought airport security measures began when you were forced to remove your shoes, you thought wrong. Background checks by The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) may become routine prior to flights.
In a move set to streamline security, new measures allow TSA to search car registrations and employment history for domestic airport screenings. The previous standard on background checks applied to travelers entering the United States only, but has now expanded to domestic flights.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the TSA has implemented many security procedures, and not all of them have been comfortable (how about those body scanners?). Secure Flight, a behind-the-scenes TSA program in which a passenger’s name, gender, and date of birth are compared with terrorist watch lists, has been a routine screening procedure. If you are a part of an airline’s frequent flyer program, records about previous destinations and lengths can be accessed.
As world citizens become more aware of government surveillance and privacy concerns, coupled with the widespread use of technology and ease of personal dissemination, travelers are questioning what information is accessed and by whom. Privacy groups are expressing their concerns. Foreign passengers are also concerned that they will be targeted unfairly as a result of their ethnic background, appearance, or religious affiliation. On the other hand, passengers understand that cooperation is needed to prevent similar terrorist attacks to those of 9/11.
At this time, details of the program or what factors into the decision of declaring a passenger as a “risk” have not been announced. The TSA emphasized its goal of less intrusive screening for up to 25 percent of all passengers by the end of next year, meaning they can keep their shoes and jackets on, wait in separate lines, and leave laptop computers in their bags.