Recently domestic airline passenger Sherri Davidoff wrote about her experience boarding an airplane without ID. Security required only basic information before Sherri could board the plane: she provided her name and the street and a state where she had lived previously. Sherri later said that she probably could have skipped even that much questioning by printing two boarding passes at home, and tossing the first one marked for further screening.
Sherri may have arrived at her destination, but the Transportation Security Administration has not forgotten that she showed up ID-less. The TSA has been adding ill-prepared passengers to their database of individuals who have violated security laws or were questioned for suspicious behavior. To see why the TSA wants to keep all the info on hand,
The head of the TSA said keeping a list of those who say they left their identification at home helps the TSA track potential terrorists who might probe the system for cracks. Starting today, the TSA will only keep information for individuals that were unable to be sufficiently identified upon further questioning.
For 15 years, the same database retains the name, address, social security number, nationality, race, physical features, and information about traveling partners for those simply questioned by police for suspicious behavior. Last week the TSA misplaced a laptop that contained unencrypted identification data for 33,000 people. Could keeping databases of extensive identification information actually make us less safe?