Amtrak Wants TSA to Screen Some of its Passengers Against a Terrorist List

Amtrak wants the U.S. Transportation Security Administration to screen some of its passengers against a Terrorist Screening Database, the Hearst Television National Investigative Unit recently reported.

The report said Amtrak wants to determine if any of its passengers may be terrorists or suspected terrorists.

At this point Amtrak would not prohibit any passengers from traveling in the same manner that airlines deny boarding to those on a U.S. Department of Homeland Security no fly list.

In fact, the report said, the information that TSA would provide Amtrak would not include the names of those who traveled on Amtrak who are on a terrorism watch list but would instead provide statistical data.

Hearst said it learned of the plans by reviewing a security privacy impact report it obtained that was created by Homeland Security.

The information that DHS would review about passengers would include their publicly available social media profiles. DHS also would review several months of past travel on the Northeast Corridor.

Hearst said Amtrak would not respond to questions it asked about the proposed program.

The Hearst report said the program would not likely be disclosed by Amtrak until it releases a new online privacy policy.

TSA also declined to comment for the story, Hearst said.

Some civil liberties organizations expressed concern about Amtrak’s proposed screening program, saying it could compromise too much freedom in the name of safety.

“It’s terrifying to me,” said Saira Hussain, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

She said those identified during the Amtrak screening program might face greater danger of that information being used whenever they come into contact with law enforcement such as during a traffic stop.

Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union said it could become a classic example of mission creep.

“Pretty soon we’re going to have people walking through, you know, body scanners to go to a Little League game,” Stanley said. “We don’t want to turn America into an airport.”

The DHS privacy assessment document noted the information gathered in the Amtrak screening program would be kept for two years.

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