Senate would curb Secure Flight, data mining

Senate would curb Secure Flight, data mining

The Senate version of the Homeland Security Department appropriations bill would put new restrictions on the department's program for screening air passengers and its use of data mining technology. The Senate passed its version of HR 4567 by a 93-0 voice vote on Sept. 14, clearing $32 billion for the department.

The House earlier had approved the same overall level of spending. The $32 billion figure stands $896 million above the administration's budget request for DHS.

The Senate version of HR 4567 would require DHS to slash the false positive rate for air passenger screening by the Transportation Security Administration's Secure Flight program, or any similar program. It also mandates an appeal process for Secure Flight and forbids TSA to prevent a traveler from boarding a flight unless the person's name appears on a terrorist watch list.

The data mining language requires DHS to report to Congress in October 2005 on the privacy impact of federal data mining activities. Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) proposed the amendment, which the Senate adopted unanimously.

DHS has drawn intense criticism over its passenger screening programs. It scuttled the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System II recently because of widespread concern about data mining features.

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