The US Transportation Security Administration has done a backflip on a policy of adding people who had forgotten their ID to its database of suspect fliers.
The scheme kicked off in June, according to USA Today, the same time the agency officially declared people could not board planes in the US unless they showed ID.
At the time the TSA said it would still allow people who had misplaced, as opposed to refused to show, their ID on to planes. But there was no mention of the database.
Being added to the database, effectively meant that innocent but absent-minded fliers in the US would find their IDs slapped in a database with everyone else the TSA decided was an undesirable, including people who breached flight securities regulations or acted suspiciously. Or are foreign. (We’re guessing on that last one.)
Getting lumped in with the undesirable or just plain stupid in the virtual world is bad enough. But in the real world unlucky fliers who were slapped into the database could also expect ongoing aggravation on subsequent flights.
TSA boss Kip Hawley told USA Today that adding the "forgetful" would enable the agency to track potential terrorists who were “probing” for weak points in US airport security.
However, Hawley phoned the paper back shortly afterwards and said the agency would not retain details, if subjects could convince screeners of their actual ID. Which will still be a push if you really have lost your wallet/been mugged/are plain stupid.
Hawley said names of the ID-forgetful already in the database would be expunged within the month.
However, people simply deemed to have been “acting suspiciously” and who have been questioned by airport police will remain in the database for 15 years, along with information about their travelling companions.
Deep down, the TSA still believes that being forgetful is inherently suspicious.®