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  • News: DHS Publishes Final Rule on Privacy Act of 1974

    Federal Register, Volume 79 Issue 1 (Thursday, January 2, 2014)
    [Federal Register Volume 79, Number 1 (Thursday, January 2, 2014)]
    [Rules and Regulations]
    [Pages 2-5]
    From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
    [FR Doc No: 2013-31183]
    
    
    =======================================================================
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
    
    Office of the Secretary
    
    6 CFR Part 5
    
    [Docket No. DHS-2013-0041]
    
    
    Privacy Act of 1974: Implementation of Exemptions; Department of 
    Homeland Security Transportation Security Administration, DHS/TSA-021, 
    TSA Pre[check]TM Application Program System of Records
    
    AGENCY: Department of Homeland Security.
    
    ACTION: Final rule.
    
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    
    SUMMARY: The Department of Homeland Security is issuing a final rule to 
    amend its regulations to exempt portions of a newly established system 
    of records titled, ``Department of Homeland Security/Transportation 
    Security Administration-021, TSA Pre[check]TM Application 
    Program System of Records,'' from one or more provisions of the Privacy 
    Act because of criminal, civil, and administrative enforcement 
    requirements.
    
    DATES: Effective January 2, 2014.
    
    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For general questions please contact: 
    Peter Pietra, TSA Privacy Officer, TSA-036, 601 South 12th Street, 
    Arlington, VA 20598-6036; or email at TSAprivacy@dhs.gov. For privacy 
    questions, please contact: Karen L. Neuman, (202) 343-1717, Chief 
    Privacy Officer, Privacy Office, Department of Homeland Security, 
    Washington, DC 20528.
    
    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
    
    Background
    
        The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/Transportation Security 
    Administration (TSA) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) 
    in the Federal Register, 78 FR 55657 (Sept. 11, 2013), proposing to 
    exempt portions of the newly established ``DHS/TSA-021, TSA 
    Pre[check]TM Application Program System of Records'' from 
    one or more provisions of the Privacy Act
    
    [[Page 3]]
    
    because of criminal, civil, and administrative enforcement 
    requirements. The DHS/TSA-021 TSA Pre[check]TM Application 
    Program System of Records Notice (SORN) was published in the Federal 
    Register, 78 FR 55274 (Sept. 10, 2013), and comments were invited on 
    both the NPRM and SORN.
    
    Public Comments
    
        DHS received 12 comments on the NPRM and five comments on the SORN.
    
    NPRM
    
        Several comments exceeded the scope of the exemption rulemaking and 
    chose instead to comment on TSA security measures. DHS/TSA will not 
    respond to those comments.
        DHS/TSA received a few comments that objected to the proposal to 
    claim any exemptions from the Privacy Act for the release of 
    information collected pursuant to the SORN. As stated in the NPRM, no 
    exemption will be asserted regarding information in the system that is 
    submitted by a person if that person, or his or her agent, seeks access 
    to or amendment of such information. However, this system may contain 
    records or information created or recompiled from information contained 
    in other systems of records that are exempt from certain provisions of 
    the Privacy Act, such as law enforcement or national security 
    investigation or encounter records, or terrorist screening records. 
    Disclosure of these records from other systems, as noted in the NPRM, 
    could compromise investigatory material compiled for law enforcement or 
    national security purposes. DHS will examine each request on a case-by-
    case basis and, after conferring with the appropriate component or 
    agency, may waive applicable exemptions in appropriate circumstances 
    and when it would not appear to interfere with or adversely affect the 
    investigatory purposes of the systems from which the information is 
    recompiled or in which it is contained.\1\
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
        \1\ The TSA Pre[check]TM Application Program performs 
    checks that are very similar to those performed for populations such 
    as TSA Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) and 
    Hazardous Material Endorsement (HME) programs. Accordingly, TSA 
    proposed most of the same Privacy Act exemptions for the TSA 
    Pre[check]TM Application Program that are claimed for the 
    applicable System of Records Notice for the TWIC and HME programs. 
    The Privacy Act exemptions claimed from the Transportation Security 
    Threat Assessment System of Records strike the right balance of 
    permitting TWIC and HME applicants to correct errors or incomplete 
    information in other systems of records that may affect their 
    ability to receive one of these credentials, while also protecting 
    sensitive law enforcement or national security information that may 
    be included in other systems of records.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
        DHS/TSA received one comment from a private individual recommending 
    that foreign service employees and their families be automatically 
    included this program. The comment misapprehends the program for which 
    the NPRM was published. The NPRM was published in association with the 
    SORN for the TSA Pre[check]TM Application program, which is 
    designed to allow individuals to apply to be included in the program. 
    Separately, DHS/TSA continues to evaluate populations that may 
    otherwise be eligible for TSA Pre[check]TM screening.
        DHS/TSA received one comment from a private individual concerned 
    that exemptions under the Privacy Act would allow TSA to engage in 
    discriminatory conduct based on race and appearance, and that an 
    individual whose application is denied would have limited recourse 
    because TSA would not provide enough information. The security threat 
    assessment involves recurrent checks against law enforcement, 
    immigration, and intelligence databases. TSA does not make decisions 
    regarding eligibility for the TSA Pre[check]TM Application 
    Program based on race or appearance. Eligibility for the TSA 
    Pre[check]TM Application Program is within the sole 
    discretion of TSA, which will notify individuals who are denied 
    eligibility in writing of the reasons for the denial. If initially 
    deemed ineligible, applicants will have an opportunity to correct cases 
    of misidentification or inaccurate criminal or immigration records. 
    Individuals whom TSA determines are ineligible for the TSA 
    Pre[check]TM Application Program will continue to be 
    screened at airport security checkpoints according to TSA standard 
    screening protocols.
        DHS/TSA received one comment from a public interest research center 
    that asserting Privacy Act exemptions contravenes the intent of the 
    Privacy Act. DHS does not agree that asserting exemptions provided 
    within the Privacy Act contravenes the Privacy Act. As reflected in the 
    OMB Privacy Act Implementation Guidelines, ``the drafters of the Act 
    recognized that application of all the requirements of the Act to 
    certain categories of records would have had undesirable and often 
    unacceptable effects upon agencies in the conduct of necessary public 
    business.'' 40 FR 28948, 28971 (July 9, 1975).
        The same commenter recognized the need to withhold information 
    pursuant to Privacy Act exemptions during the period of the 
    investigation, but also stated that individuals should be able to 
    receive such information after an investigation is completed or made 
    public, with appropriate redactions to protect the identities of 
    witnesses and informants. This commenter stated that such post-
    investigation disclosures would provide individuals with the ability to 
    address potential inaccuracies in these records, and noted that the TSA 
    Pre[check]TM Application Program will provide applicants an 
    opportunity to correct inaccurate or incomplete criminal records or 
    immigration records.
        As stated above, DHS will consider requests on a case-by-case 
    basis, and in certain instances may waive applicable exemptions and 
    release material that otherwise would be withheld. However, certain 
    information gathered in the course of law enforcement or national 
    security investigations or encounters, and created or recompiled from 
    information contained in other exempt systems of records, will continue 
    to be exempted from disclosure. Some of these records would reveal 
    investigative techniques, sensitive security information, and 
    classified information, or permit the subjects of investigations to 
    interfere with related investigations. Continuing to exempt these 
    sensitive records from disclosure is consistent with the intent and 
    spirit of the Privacy Act. This information contained in a document 
    qualifying for exemption does not lose its exempt status when 
    recompiled in another record if the purposes underlying the exemption 
    of the original document pertain to the recompilation as well.
        While access under the Privacy Act may be withheld under an 
    appropriate exemption, the DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS 
    TRIP) is a single point of contact for individuals who have inquiries 
    or seek resolution regarding difficulties they experienced during their 
    travel screening at transportation hubs, and has been used by 
    individuals whose names are the same or similar to those of individuals 
    on watch lists. See http://www.dhs.gov/dhs-trip.
    
    SORN
    
        DHS/TSA received five comments on the SORN. One commenter asked if 
    TSA Pre[check]TM Application Program applicants would be 
    advised as to the reasons for a denial of that application. As 
    explained in the SORN and NPRM, TSA will notify applicants who are 
    denied eligibility in writing of the reasons for the denial. If 
    initially deemed ineligible, applicants will have an opportunity to 
    correct cases of misidentification or inaccurate criminal or 
    immigration records.
        Consistent with 28 CFR 50.12 in cases involving criminal records, 
    and before making a final eligibility decision, TSA will advise the 
    applicant that the FBI
    
    [[Page 4]]
    
    criminal record discloses information that would disqualify him or her 
    from the TSA [check]TM Application Program. Within 30 days 
    after being advised that the criminal record received from the FBI 
    discloses a disqualifying criminal offense, the applicant must notify 
    TSA in writing of his or her intent to correct any information he or 
    she believes to be inaccurate. The applicant must provide a certified 
    revised record, or the appropriate court must forward a certified true 
    copy of the information, prior to TSA approving eligibility of the 
    applicant for the TSA [check]TM Application Program. With 
    respect to immigration records, within 30 days after being advised that 
    the immigration records indicate that the applicant is ineligible for 
    the TSA Pre[check]TM Application Program, the applicant must 
    notify TSA in writing of his or her intent to correct any information 
    believed to be inaccurate. TSA will review any information submitted 
    and make a final decision. If neither notification nor a corrected 
    record is received by TSA, TSA may make a final determination to deny 
    eligibility.
        One advocacy group stated that records of travel itineraries should 
    be expunged because, as the commenter claimed, they are records of how 
    individuals exercise their First Amendment rights. The TSA 
    Pre[check]TM Application Program neither requests nor 
    maintains applicant travel itinerary records, so this comment is 
    inapplicable.
        Contrary to some commenters' assertion that the TSA 
    Pre[check]TM Application Program infringes upon an 
    individual's right to travel, this program will provide an added 
    convenience to the majority of the traveling public.
        A public interest research center noted that according to the SORN, 
    Known Traveler Numbers (KTNs) will be granted to individuals who pose a 
    ``low'' risk to transportation security, while the Secure Flight 
    regulation (see 49 CFR 1560.3) provides that when a known traveler 
    program is instituted, individuals for whom the Federal government has 
    conducted a security threat assessment and who do ``not pose a security 
    threat'' will be provided a KTN. This commenter stated that DHS thus 
    used the SORN to amend the Secure Flight regulation. DHS disagrees that 
    the use of these two phrases constitutes a change in the Secure Flight 
    regulation for who may receive a KTN. In response to comments on the 
    Secure Flight proposed rule, TSA stated that it intended ``to develop 
    and implement the Known Traveler Number as part of the Secure Flight 
    program. . . .'' and that a KTN will be assigned to individuals ``for 
    whom the Federal government has already conducted a terrorist security 
    threat assessment and has determined does not pose a terrorist security 
    threat.'' See 73 FR 64018, 64034 (Oct. 28, 2008).
        TSA will compare TSA Pre[check]TM Application Program 
    applicants to terrorist watch lists to determine whether the 
    individuals pose a terrorist threat, but its threat assessment also 
    will include law enforcement records checks to determine whether 
    applicants in other ways pose a security threat.\2\ Applicants who are 
    found to present a low risk to security, i.e., they do not pose either 
    a terrorist security threat nor a more general security threat, will be 
    provided a KTN.\3\
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
        \2\ As TSA developed its known traveler program under the Secure 
    Flight rule, it determined that it would require a security threat 
    assessment similar to the threat assessment used for the TWIC and 
    HME programs. The threat assessments for the TWIC and HME programs 
    compare applicant names to watch lists and to law enforcement 
    records to determine whether applicants pose a terrorist threat or 
    other security threat. As part of this assessment, certain criminal 
    convictions (e.g., espionage) are determined to be permanent bars to 
    receiving a TWIC or HME, while other convictions (e.g., smuggling) 
    require a period of time to have passed post-conviction or post-
    imprisonment before the applicant will be considered for the 
    program. See 49 CFR 1572.103. The TWIC and HME programs thus 
    consider not only whether an applicant poses a terrorist threat, but 
    also whether the applicant otherwise poses a security threat.
        \3\ In developing its known traveler program, TSA relied on its 
    expertise in aviation security to determine that a ``threat'' 
    includes a declaration of intent to cause harm, or something likely 
    to cause harm. Furthermore, TSA determined that a ``risk'' only 
    represents a chance of something going wrong or a possibility of 
    danger. Therefore, TSA deemed that ``low risk'' individuals ``do not 
    pose a security threat'' to aviation security.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
        The use of the phrase ``low risk'' is neither an expansion nor a 
    contraction of the population that was anticipated to receive KTNs 
    under the Secure Flight rule; rather, as the TSA 
    Pre[check]TM program was developed, the use of the term 
    ``low risk'' was employed to more accurately describe who will receive 
    a KTN. The TSA Pre[check]TM Application Program is a trusted 
    traveler program, not a program open to all except those who present a 
    terrorist threat. This standard also is consistent with the statutory 
    authorization TSA received from the Congress to ``[e]stablish 
    requirements to implement trusted passenger programs and use available 
    technologies to expedite security screening of passengers who 
    participate in such programs, thereby allowing security screening 
    personnel to focus on those passengers who should be subject to more 
    extensive screening.'' See sec. 109(a)(3) of the Aviation and 
    Transportation Security Act (ATSA), Public Law 107-71 (115 Stat. 597, 
    613, Nov. 19, 2001, codified at 49 U.S.C. 114 note).
        TSA promulgated the Secure Flight rule under the Administrative 
    Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 553, and clearly indicated that TSA was 
    still developing its KTN program. The method that TSA selected to 
    determine who receives KTNs under the TSA Pre[check]TM 
    Application Program does not substantively affect the public to a 
    degree sufficient to implicate the policy interests underlying notice-
    and-comment rulemaking requirements. As noted in the SORN, the TSA 
    Pre[check]TM Application Program does not impose any 
    impediment on any individual traveler that is different from that 
    experienced by the general traveling public, and individuals who TSA 
    determines to be ineligible for the program will continue to be 
    screened at airport security checkpoints according to TSA standard 
    screening protocols. See 78 FR 55274, 55275. Specifically, a traveler 
    denied admission into a TSA Pre[check]TM lane because he or 
    she does not have a KTN will face no greater screening impediment than 
    anyone in the standard screening lane. Thus, notice-and-comment 
    rulemaking is not required because the Secure Flight regulation 
    notified the public that TSA would retain the ability to determine who 
    might receive a KTN, and also because no new substantive burden or 
    impediment for any traveler has been created. As such, the use of the 
    phrase ``low risk'' does not constitute an amendment to the Secure 
    Flight regulation.
        The same commenter also suggested that TSA should make public its 
    algorithms or thresholds for determining which TSA 
    Pre[check]TM; Application Program applicants are approved. 
    If TSA were to make its algorithms public, it would be possible for 
    individuals who seek to disrupt civil aviation to circumvent the 
    algorithms. Such disclosure would be contrary to TSA's mission and 
    might endanger the flying public.
        Other commenters suggested that applicant information should be 
    destroyed immediately after providing eligible individuals a KTN. For 
    those individuals granted KTNs, TSA will maintain the application data 
    while the KTN is valid and for one additional year to ensure that the 
    security mission of the agency is properly protected. Without the 
    application data, TSA would be unable to identify instances of fraud, 
    identity theft, evolving risks, and other security issues. Moreover, 
    destruction of the underlying application information will hinder TSA's 
    ability to assist KTN holders who
    
    [[Page 5]]
    
    have lost their numbers and could cause them to have to reapply for the 
    program. TSA also will retain application data to protect applicants' 
    right to correct underlying information in the case of an initial 
    denial.
        Two commenters questioned whether applicant information should be 
    shared both within and outside DHS. TSA follows standard information-
    sharing principles among DHS components in accordance with the Privacy 
    Act. In addition, TSA has narrowly tailored the routine uses that it 
    has proposed to serve its mission and promote efficiency within the 
    Federal Government.
        A public interest research center objected to three of the routine 
    uses proposed for the system of records, arguing that the routine uses 
    would result in blanket sharing with law enforcement agencies, foreign 
    entities, and the public for other purposes. DHS has considered the 
    comment but disagrees. The exercise of any routine use is subject to 
    the requirement that sharing be compatible with the purposes for which 
    the information was collected.
        Several commenters objected that the TSA Pre[check]TM 
    Application Program violates the U.S. Constitution or international 
    treaty. DHS disagrees with the commenters as to the Constitutionality 
    of the program, and notes that the treaty cited by an advocacy group 
    expressly contradicts the position taken by the commenter by excluding 
    requirements provided by law or necessary for national security from 
    the treaty's proscription.
        After careful consideration of public comments, the Department will 
    implement the rulemaking as proposed.
    
    List of Subjects in 6 CFR Part 5
    
        Freedom of information; Privacy.
    
        For the reasons stated in the preamble, DHS amends Chapter I of 
    Title 6, Code of Federal Regulations, as follows:
    
    PART 5--DISCLOSURE OF RECORDS AND INFORMATION
    
    0
    1. The authority citation for Part 5 continues to read as follows:
    
        Authority:  6 U.S.C. 101 et seq.; Pub. L. 107-296, 116 Stat. 
    2135; 5 U.S.C. 301. Subpart A also issued under 5 U.S.C. 552. 
    Subpart B also issued under 5 U.S.C. 552a.
    
    
    0
    2. Add new paragraph 71 to Appendix C to Part 5 to read as follows:
    
    Appendix C to Part 5--DHS Systems of Records Exempt From the Privacy 
    Act
    
    * * * * *
        71. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/Transportation 
    Security Administration (TSA)-021 TSA Pre[check]TM 
    Application Program System of Records consists of electronic and 
    paper records and will be used by DHS/TSA. The DHS/TSA-021 
    Pre[check]TM Application Program System of Records is a 
    repository of information held by DHS/TSA on individuals who 
    voluntarily provide personally identifiable information (PII) to TSA 
    in return for enrollment in a program that will make them eligible 
    for expedited security screening at designated airports. This System 
    of Records contains PII in biographic application data, biometric 
    information, pointer information to law enforcement databases, 
    payment tracking, and U.S. application membership decisions that 
    support the TSA Pre[check]TM Application Program 
    membership decisions. The DHS/TSA-021 TSA Pre[check]TM 
    Application Program System of Records contains information that is 
    collected by, on behalf of, in support of, or in cooperation with 
    DHS and its components and may contain PII collected by other 
    federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, or foreign government 
    agencies. The Secretary of Homeland Security, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 
    552a(k)(1) and (k)(2), has exempted this system from the following 
    provisions of the Privacy Act: 5 U.S.C. 552a(c)(3); (d); (e)(1); 
    (e)(4)(G), (H), and (I); and (f). Where a record received from 
    another system has been exempted in that source system under 5 
    U.S.C. 552a(k)(1) and (k)(2), DHS will claim the same exemptions for 
    those records that are claimed for the original primary systems of 
    records from which they originated and claims any additional 
    exemptions set forth here. Exemptions from these particular 
    subsections are justified, on a case-by-case basis to be determined 
    at the time a request is made, for the following reasons:
        (a) From subsection (c)(3) (Accounting for Disclosures) because 
    release of the accounting of disclosures could alert the subject of 
    an investigation of an actual or potential criminal, civil, or 
    regulatory violation to the existence of that investigation and 
    reveal investigative interest on the part of DHS as well as the 
    recipient agency. Disclosure of the accounting would therefore 
    present a serious impediment to law enforcement efforts and/or 
    efforts to preserve national security. Disclosure of the accounting 
    also would permit the individual who is the subject of a record to 
    impede the investigation, to tamper with witnesses or evidence, and 
    to avoid detection or apprehension, which would undermine the entire 
    investigative process.
        (b) From subsection (d) (Access to Records) because access to 
    the records contained in this system of records could inform the 
    subject of an investigation of an actual or potential criminal, 
    civil, or regulatory violation to the existence of that 
    investigation and reveal investigative interest on the part of DHS 
    or another agency. Access to the records could permit the individual 
    who is the subject of a record to impede the investigation, to 
    tamper with witnesses or evidence, and to avoid detection or 
    apprehension. Amendment of the records could interfere with ongoing 
    investigations and law enforcement activities and would impose an 
    unreasonable administrative burden by requiring investigations to be 
    continually reinvestigated. In addition, permitting access and 
    amendment to such information could disclose security-sensitive 
    information that could be detrimental to homeland security.
        (c) From subsection (e)(1) (Relevancy and Necessity of 
    Information) because in the course of investigations into potential 
    violations of federal law, the accuracy of information obtained or 
    introduced occasionally may be unclear, or the information may not 
    be strictly relevant or necessary to a specific investigation. In 
    the interests of effective law enforcement, it is appropriate to 
    retain all information that may aid in establishing patterns of 
    unlawful activity.
        (d) From subsections (e)(4)(G), (H), and (I) (Agency 
    Requirements) and (f) (Agency Rules), because portions of this 
    system are exempt from the individual access provisions of 
    subsection (d) for the reasons noted above, and therefore DHS is not 
    required to establish requirements, rules, or procedures with 
    respect to such access. Providing notice to individuals with respect 
    to the existence of records pertaining to them in the system of 
    records or otherwise setting up procedures pursuant to which 
    individuals may access and view records pertaining to themselves in 
    the system would undermine investigative efforts and reveal the 
    identities of witnesses, potential witnesses, and confidential 
    informants.
    
        Dated: December 20, 2013.
    Karen L. Neuman,
    Chief Privacy Officer, Department of Homeland Security.
    [FR Doc. 2013-31183 Filed 12-31-13; 8:45 am]
    BILLING CODE 9110-9M-P
    
    
    
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