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ADC Welcomes New TSA Aviation Security and Traveler Screening Enhancements

posted on: Apr 29, 2008

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) welcomes the recent Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announcement of a new program designed to alleviate the inconvenience of innocent travelers who are mistaken for people on government watch lists due to name confusion.

ADC has been at the forefront of advocating for constructive changes in the “watch list program,” as it has greatly impacted the Arab-American and Muslim-American communities. In the past five years, ADC has worked with the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the TSA to address the continuing challenges with “false positive” identifications due to name confusion. Over the years, ADC has provided both DHS CRCL and TSA with numerous cases where innocent travelers were falsely identified as a result of having a name similar to one on a government watch list.

In an effort to remedy such misidentification, TSA announced that “effective April 28, every airline will be able to create a system to verify and securely store passengers’ dates of birth to clear up watch list misidentifications.”

These inconvenienced passengers were previously unable to check-in online or at airline kiosks. A report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released in October, 2007, indicated that the Government’s watch lists have swelled to include over 755,000 records; nearly quadrupling over roughly a three-year period.

As a result, passengers who are falsely identified were required to check-in at the ticket counter and faced prolonged delays and questioning before being permitted to continue the check-in process. Now, according to TSA, “by voluntarily providing this limited biographical data [passenger’s date of birth] to an airline and verifying that information once at the ticket counter,” these travelers will be able to check-in online or at airline kiosks in the future. This program will be in effect until early 2009 when TSA’s Secure Flight Program is implemented.

ADC National Executive Director Kareem Shora said, “We welcome these new changes by TSA and are hopeful that they will result in a more effective and efficient security process; one which safeguards our safety while protecting innocent travelers.”

To resolve issues regarding names listed on government watch lists and apply to have your name cleared see: http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/customer/redress/index.shtm

As always, individuals who are impacted by this issue may contact the ADC Legal Department for further assistance via email to legal@adc.org or by calling 202-244-2990.

See TSA’s Press Release: http://www.tsa.gov/press/releases/2008/0428.shtm.

See charts explaining the current process and the new proposed solution: http://www.tsa.gov/press/happenings/checkpoint_reduce_hassle.shtm