• TSA tested, scrapped program that tracked Bluetooth devices

    By: Scott MacFarlane

    Updated:

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - http://bcove.me/xjn2cbgk

    Lines can be long at airport security. The Transportation Security Administration knows too. Documents obtained by Eyewitness News showed TSA tested a project to measure how long.

    Sensors in the terminal found Bluetooth devices, honed in on the signals and tracked how long it took people to get through security.

    An internal TSA document stated it worked by, "…detecting signals broadcast to the public by individual devices and calculating a wait time as the signal passes sensors positioned to cover the area in which passengers may wait in line."

    It said the information would be encrypted and destroyed within two hours to protect people's privacy. TSA tested the technology in 2012 in Las Vegas and Indianapolis, but bailed on it.

    "This is an expensive and needlessly complicated way of estimating wait times, compared with say a ticket agent writing the time at the front of the line," said Julian Sanchez, author of "Wiretapping the Internet."

    TSA has taken criticism in the recent months for its handling of passenger privacy, including enhanced pat downs and whole body scanners.

    A spokesman for the Association of Airline Passengers Rights said his group isn't comfortable with Bluetooth tracking and TSA has a history of saying it's keeping passenger information private and then changing its story.

    TSA documents show the agency considered posting warning signs alerting passengers that Bluetooth sensors were active, but officials didn't return comment when Eyewitness News asked if the signs were posted at the cities where the technology was tested.

    A spokesman confirmed they've scrapped the program before it became public.


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