IBIA objects to TSA’s planned identity management protocols for PreCheck

IBIA questions TSA plan on PreCheck expansion (Planet Biometrics)

The International Biometrics and Identification Association (IBIA) has objected to plans by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to exclusively use just biographic data solutions in an expansion of the PreCheck travel screening program.

There’s an interesting quote in the piece that compares what the TSA is proposing to the fraud prevention techniques commonly used by credit card companies.

That alone should give pause. For credit card companies, fraud is an actuarial problem. Credit card companies earn 3-4% on every transaction plus interest fees for carried balances. There’s plenty of room for both fraud and profit in that model.

The TSA’s job is different, and perhaps their fraud prevention techniques should be, too.

Private companies to help populate TSA traveler biometric database

US airports to introduce new online biometric screening technologies (Companies and Markets)

The United States Transportation Security Administration has announced its plans to allow private companies to enrol passengers for expedited screening at airports.

The initiative, known as PreCheck, will allow US citizens to go through an online pre-enrollment process by providing biometric information.

This reminds me of India’s UID system where private companies populate government databases. India had some trouble with this arrangement partly due to the way revenues flowed. In India the government payed companies to enroll people (many without ID’s) in UID. Some unscrupulous agents there were signing up vegetables and getting paid for it.

Presumably, because the TSA system will involve people who already have a verified identity and the customer will be footing the bill, the opportunity for that type of graft won’t be there.

TSA ‘PreCheck’ expansion expected to enroll 88,000 in six months (Los Angeles Times)

Starting later this year, the TSA will allow all travelers who pay a $85 fee and submit background information, including fingerprints, to qualify for the program for five years.

In a report filed this week, the TSA estimated that 88,111 travelers would apply for the program in the first six months, with an additional 383,131 fliers applying in the following year.

The vetting process will take two to three weeks, the TSA said.

TSA wants a slick new ID & document management system

TSA To Purchase Credential Authentication Technology In 2014 (HS Today)

A CAT system must verify the identity of air passengers and confirm they are able to travel beyond the security checkpoint for boarding their planes, TSA said in an announcement Monday. It must display authentication credentials to a transportation security officer (TSO) or other qualified operator and ensure proper ticketing of the passenger, instructing the system operator as to what action to take if the passenger is not yet cleared.

The CAT system also must integrate a credentials scanner, technology to authenticate credentials, a graphic user interface (GUI) and an application programming interface (API). Under a separate contract, TSA already has produced the API, which provides an interface with its Security Technology Integrated Program (STIP) for the transfer of passenger data.

Pretty cool. This sounds a lot like the IDTrac product we developed several years back, only we used IDTrac to keep track of bank checks instead of boarding passes. The facial recognition part of what it does is pretty elegant if I do say so myself.

More on TWIC Expiration for Truckers

TSA offers three-year TWIC card renewal plan for certain cardholders (Land Line)

Beginning in August, TSA will allow current TWIC cardholders whose TWIC cards expire on or before Dec. 31, 2014, to pay $60 and make one trip to an enrollment center. Cardholders will call the TWIC help desk at 1-866-DHS-TWIC (347-8942). Once their card is ready, they can pick the card up at an enrollment center.

See also:
TWIC: Licensed Hazmat Truckers Can Skip a Background Check, Save Money
Why is the TWIC So Expensive?

Three approaches to trusted traveler programs…

Clear, Global Entry and PreCheck are three distinct trusted traveler programs. Clear is a commercial effort. Global Entry is a government initiative. PreCheck is administered through the airlines.

It’s good to see the air transportation industry and government regulators trying several things at once in the hope that, as one traveler put it, it “makes travelling bearable again.”

Security checks eased for some air travellers in U.S. airports (Calgary Herald)

The pre-screening programs represent an effort to maintain security against terror attacks while limiting headaches for air travelers. The TSA, which faces constant scrutiny for the invasiveness of passenger screenings, can also be criticized for security lapses.

“On one hand, Congress bashes them for making it miserable for people who fly. But no one in Congress wants to be soft on security,” Bender said.

Airport security is anything but a science, experts say.

There’s more on each of the programs at the link.

Why is the TWIC So Expensive?

TWIC Relief Proposal Unanimously Approved by Homeland Security Committee (TMCnet)

Over the past five years, roughly 2.1 million longshoremen, truckers, merchant mariners, and rail and vessel crew members have undergone extensive background checks and paid a $132.50 fee to obtain these cards. Unless Congress or the Administration acts, starting this October, workers would be required to go through the time and expense of renewing their TWICs. Compelling hardworking Americans to undertake the expense and hassle of renewing their cards is not justifiable given that the basic requirements for biometric readers to match these cards with the cardholders have not been issue by the Department of Homeland Security.

Five years on, the earliest Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWICs) will be expiring soon and renewing them isn’t cheap.

From TSA.gov:

The fee for a renewal TWIC (valid for 5 years) is the same amount as the initial enrollment fee, which is currently 129.75* since another security threat assessment will be performed and a credential issued those individuals who successfully undergo this assessment. Individuals also have the option to enroll with a comparable credential and pay a reduced fee. * Effective March 19, 2012, the enrollment cost was reduced from $132.50 to $129.75 due to a FBI fee decrease.

Transportation workers are peeved that they pay for an ID with all sorts of biometric technology bells and whistles while the ID management systems that they use daily don’t take advantage of the card’s capabilities.

But the TWIC is expensive for reasons other than biometric enrollment. The TWIC applicant must provide: biographic information, identity documents, biometric information (fingerprints), a digital photograph and pay the fee. A TSA employee has to go through all this stuff.

Then, the TSA conducts a security threat assessment on the TWIC applicant sending pertinent parts of the enrollment record to the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) so that appropriate terrorist threat, criminal history, and immigration checks can be performed.

This, to say the least, is not a cheap process and my guess is that the labor costs, not technology cost, of issuing a TWIC accounts for a huge proportion of the total. The opportunity cost inflicted on the applicant also seems pretty high (i.e. getting a TWIC is a major annoyance).

So then, what of the Homeland Security Committee desire to remove the TWIC renewal requirement? I guess that depends upon why it was originally determined that the TWIC should be renewed every five years.

According to the TSA: “The renewal process consists of the same steps as the original enrollment process (optional pre-enrollment, in-person enrollment, and card activation.) These steps are required since a security threat assessment is required on all applicants, confirming they still meet eligibility requirements” (emph. mine).

If the cards are expensive because the processing costs are high and background checks are expensive. Are the costs unacceptably high? Is $26 per year too expensive? How much does it cost other entities (FBI, military) to keep ID’s current? Who should pay: the worker, their employer, the government, or some combination of the three?

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