- USA Today -
Airline passengers who get frustrated and kick a wall, throw a suitcase or make a pithy comment to a screener could find themselves in a little-known Homeland Security database.
The Transportation Security Administration says it is keeping records of people who make its screeners feel threatened as part of an effort to prevent workplace violence.
Privacy advocates fear the database could feed government watch lists and subject innocent people to extra airport screening.
"Is this going to be the baby watch list? There's a potential for the misuse of information or the mischaracterization of harmless events as potential threats," American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Michael German said.
A TSA report says the database can include names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, home addresses and phone numbers of people involved in airport incidents, including aggressors, victims and witnesses.
Incidents in the database include threats, bullying or verbal abuse, remarks about death or violence, brandishing a real or fake weapon, intentionally scaring workers or excessive displays of anger such as punching a wall or kicking equipment, the report says.
The database was created in late 2007 as the TSA launched a program to prevent the nation's 50,000 airport screeners from being attacked or threatened, agency spokeswoman Kristin Lee said. At the time, TSA officials voiced concern about passengers disrespecting screeners, and they began issuing new uniforms with police-style badges pinned to shirts.
Lee said attacks and threats against screeners are "rare" and the database has records from about 240 incidents. Most are screeners in conflict with other screeners. About 30 incidents involve people such as passengers or airport workers attacking or threatening screeners, Lee said.
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