Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Nearly 30,000 mistaken names on No Fly list

ZDNet has the story:

--Nearly 30,000 airline passengers have discovered in the last year that they were mistakenly placed on federal "terrorist" watch lists, a transportation security official admitted Tuesday.

Jim Kennedy, director of the Transportation Security Administration's redress office, revealed the errors at a quarterly meeting convened here by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee.

...Travelers have been instructed to file the forms only after experiencing "repeated" travel delays, he said, because additional screening can occur for multiple reasons, including fitting a certain profile, flying on a one-way ticket, or being selected randomly by a computer.

Of the 30,000 people who said they were mistakenly placed on the list, none ever had been kept from boarding an airplane, Kennedy said. Their names appeared only on a "selectee list," where members are singled out for additional screening. Names on the "no-fly" list, however, are unilaterally barred from flying. The office said it hasn't been informed of any cases where people have disputed placement on the "no-fly" list.

After submitting their notarized forms and identifications, and waiting for evaluations, the vast majority of the 30,000 people mistakenly placed on the watch list have now been added to a "clearance" list. That doesn't mean their names are erased from the watch list. In fact, travelers who go through the paperwork are told, Kennedy said, that "it will not quote 'remove' you from the list because the person we're still looking for is out there."

Instead, their names are put on the separate clearance list, which means they typically can't check in for flights at an unmanned kiosk and must approach the ticket counter to explain their situation and have an airline employee match their name to the clearance list.

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