TSA readies Secure Flight for testing

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Latest moves include posting of privacy assessment and draft order to airlines
National Press Release
Tuesday, September 21, 2004

WASHINGTON – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today announced the release of the Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) for the testing phase of the Secure Flight program along with a proposed order to airlines to provide one month's worth of Passenger Name Records (PNR) data to be used for program testing. The PIA includes details of TSA's privacy policy for the testing phase of the program and the system methodology for Secure Flight.

"This is an important moment in aviation security; we are advancing a vital tool to combat terrorism and checking off another recommendation from the 9-11 Commission," said Rear Admiral David M. Stone, USN (Ret.), Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for TSA.

"Although not required by law, the posting of the proposed order to domestic airlines and the solicitation of public comment is evidence of TSA's commitment to maintaining an open and transparent environment for the development of this important security tool," said Admiral Stone.

The proposed order directs domestic airlines to provide historic PNR data that they collected from passengers who flew in the month of June 2004. This 30-day pool of records will be used to test the Secure Flight computer platform at full load and full speed. The comment period will remain open for 30 days and following TSA's review and incorporation of changes the final order will be issued in late October.

The PIA explains in detail the handling and flow of personal information and the protocols and privacy protections built into Secure Flight to protect passengers. The system is designed around a core of privacy statutes, regulations and DHS policy.

With today's significant steps, domestic airlines should begin the transfer of data in late October, allowing testing of Secure Flight to begin in November of this year. The testing phase is important to determine system capabilities, capacity and selection rates.

Also, released today are the System of Records Notice and public notice of the Information Collection Request. These documents cover TSA statutory authority for activities during testing phase only.