The Transportation Security Administration is gearing up for stronger and broader pre-screenings, according to newly released documents. The TSA already checks travelers against a terrorist watch list, but the The New York Times reports that the agency will now begin profiling travelers based on their past travel itineraries, property records, car registrations and employment information. The result is a full background check, directing some towards lighter screenings and others towards more invasive bag checks and pat-downs.
The TSA's stated goal is to qualify one in four passengers for lighter screening, which would forgo the typical shoe removal and lighten the agency's workload, but privacy advocates worried the result would be more sustained profiling of individuals based on their past travel patterns. "I think the best way to look at it is as a pre-crime assessment every time you fly," one advocate told the Times. The changes come at a difficult time for the TSA, as the agency has come under fire for increasingly political screenings. Last week, noted Israeli cryptographer Adi Shamir was denied entry to the US for an NSA-sponsored cryptography conference, while earlier incidents this month have seen both a Pakistani drone activist and a German novelist denied entry for allegedly political reasons.