Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 9, 2007

Data Consolidation Proposal Billed as “Secure Flight” Measure

Filed under: Aviation Security,Technology for HLS — by Jonah Czerwinski on August 9, 2007

DHS announced today passenger prescreening measures to improve matching against government watch lists.  To do this, DHS is publishing two regulations:

(1) Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) Predeparture Final Rule, which enables DHS to collect manifest information for international flights departing from or arriving in the United States prior to boarding; and

(2) Secure Flight Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), which lays out DHS plans to assume watch list matching responsibilities from air carriers for domestic flights and align domestic and international passenger prescreening.

According to the DHS announcement, the changes are intended to improve targeting for determining which passengers pose a threat.  The result should be more accurate assessments of potentially dangerous passengers while easing the imposition on legitimate travelers.   This includes “better resolution for misidentified passengers,” the announcement says.  I presume this means applying more effective redress protocols to enable passengers wrongly identified as being on a watchlist so that they may be removed from it.  Presently, it is not clear how this change affects the existing DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP).

APIS results from a mandate in the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA).  The new measure will require air carriers to submit passenger data 30 minutes prior to departure or as each passenger checks in for the flight.  According to the statement:

Receiving both APIS and PNR data at least 30 minutes before a plane departs allows DHS to perform security checks against federal watch lists prior to passenger boarding, taking this responsibility from carriers and eliminating potential flight diversions due to watch list concerns.  For vessels departing from foreign ports bound for the United States, current requirements to transmit passenger and crew arrival manifest data between 24 to 96 hours prior to arrival will remain unchanged, but requires vessel carriers to transmit APIS data 60 minutes prior to departure from the United States. The APIS final rule follows an NPRM [notice of proposed rulemaking] published in the Federal Register on July 14, 2006.

 The Screening Coordination Office, which is led by Kathy Kraninger at DHS, is leading an effort to provide air carriers with “consolidated data submission requirements,” according to the statement.  This is to be done by integrating Secure Flight data and the APIS data into one stream. This is a helpful fact sheet describing implications of this change.

Once published in the Federal Register, the APIS final rule and the Secure Flight NPRM will be open for comment via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.

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