Bowing to ongoing lobbying from the “fascism’s fine with us if it makes the planes run on time” segment of the travel industry, the TSA announced today that it plans a new “trusted traveler” (“less mistrusted traveler”?) pilot program beginning this fall.
The pilot program will be by invitation only, for certain frequent flyers on certain airlines. In exchange for “volunteering” additional, as yet unspecified information about themselves, these travelers “may be eligible for expedited screening” at certain airports.
This pilot program has all the same security defects as the various previous “trusted traveler” schemes. The TSA continues to describe it as “risk-based”, but there’s still no evidence that the TSA has any profile of what the personal data or airline reservations of a “risky” person would look like, or has any authority as a “pre-crime” police agency to substitute its judgment in such matters for that of the courts.
The pilot program will involve a partnership with the DHS Customs and Border Protection division, suggesting that it may involve the use of PNR data and international travel histories from CBP’s Automated Targeting System as part of the basis for decisions about domestic flights.
In addition, there’s no indication in today’s announcement that the selection of those invited to have a chance at less-intrusive search will be based on any publicly-disclosed criteria or due process.
The TSA’s goal, of course, is to make its virtual strip-searches and/or genital groping so invasive that travelers will “volunteer more information about themselves prior to flying” in the words of today’s TSA announcement) for even a chance to be subjected to a slightly less-intrusive warrantless search.
In the end game, the treatment of mistrusted travelers who don’t “volunteer” to submit to additional surveillance and interrogation will get steadily worse, and the lines for their checkpoints longer, while any of us who object will be told that we’ve brought this treatment on ourselves, and that all we have to do to avoid it is to “consent” to lifetime “identity-based” (the TSA’s own term) tracking and logging of our movements.