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‘Trusted traveler’ program knocked

The Registered Traveler Program has been delayed for many months. In concept, the program envisioned by Congress would give the opportunity for air travelers to pass through special checkpoints quickly as a means of speeding up security lines in airports. The traveler would be pre-screened and pay $80 to $100 a year for the privilege of holding the special ID card. Last week, the program took a downward swing as the Airports Council International notified airport directors that many airports do not have the checkpoint areas for the exclusivity involved in Registered Traveler lanes. This news was followed up by the Air Transport Association, which issued a letter this month that the program will drain limited resources “and ultimately may disadvantage passengers.” The airports that chose to engage in the Registered Traveler program would have a sizable capital outlay that would involve hiring an external marketing vendor, processing the enrollment, and collecting service fees. TSA had recently announced that it plans to charge $140-$300 an hour for each Registered Traveler check point to pay for salaries of screeners in the lanes. This equates to tens of thousands of dollars a month for the service to be offered. TSA’s announced fees for the program lanes are causing a lot of controversy. “With some of the airports already saying they’re on the fence, this is one thing we don’t need,” said Luke Thomas, head of Registered Traveler for Saflink, a company seeking to participate in the program. The charges from TSA could very well make it cost prohibitive, as fees would increase dramatically. “When they throw in new things like this that have not been previously discussed, you have to constantly check your business model to make sure it’s a viable business,” stated Larry Zmuda, head of the Registered Traveler program for Unisys who also wants a piece of administration for the rollout. TSA has received applications from 13 airports to start the program, a dozen or so are not interested, and hundreds of airports are undecided and waiting to see the how program rolls out and if it improves efficiency for travelers. The program did launch at several airports around the country. However, Boston’s Logan International is among the airports dropping the idea. “We don’t see how it meets any customers’ needs,” spokesman Phil Orlandella said. Further, smaller airports will find the program a challenge. The Airports Council International, representing airport directors, says airports with smaller checkpoints will find Registered Traveler difficult. “If you have three or four lanes at a checkpoint and you have to take one lane out of service to dedicate to Registered Traveler, it can be very problematic,” said Dick Marchi, the council’s senior policy adviser. TSA says it will not allow Registered Traveler programs that make non-participants wait longer. Security professionals have found noteworthy flaws in the program. Bruce Schneier, an internationally renowned security technologist and author who has written against trusted traveler programs, said “The basic security intuition is that when you create two paths through security?an easy path and a hard path?you invite the bad guys to take the easy path. So the security of the sort process must make up for the security lost in the sorting. Trusted traveler fails this test; there are so many ways for the terrorists to get trusted traveler cards that the system makes it too easy for them to avoid the hard path through security.” Further, Schneier makes a statement about the fallacy of confusing identification with security. “In recent years there has been an increased use of identification checks as a security measure. Airlines always demand

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