The Department of Homeland Security is working on a screening system called the Computer-Assisted Passenger Prescreening System, or CAPPS II, which is designed to reduce the number of people who are misidentified as potential threats.
Airlines will be required to hand over lists of all passengers so that names can be processed through the CAPPS II system, which conducts a risk assessment of each individual by checking names against commercial and government databases. Fliers will be color-coded based on their background checks.
CAPPS II was set to begin testing in the spring, with implementation by summer. That schedule was in question at press time because the Congressional General Accounting Office found that the DHS had failed to achieve seven of eight criteria established by Congress for the program to move forward.
The program also has raised some concerns. The Business Travel Coalition is petitioning Sens. John McCain III, R-Ariz., and Ernest “Fritz” Hollings, D-S.C., chairmen of the Congressional Transportation Committee, to hold a hearing on CAPPS II. Kevin Mitchell, BTC chairman, says the group isn't opposed to CAPPS II, it just feels that there hasn't been sufficient debate on the system or the subject of privacy.
“The process seems to be lacking,” says Mitchell.