The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has begun analyzing some historical Amtrak rail passengers’ information against a terrorist watch list. Amtrak requested that the TSA begin the program and on December 1, 2021, TSA issued a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) for the “Amtrak Rail Passenger Threat Assessment.”
The resulting assessment included a historical review of passenger data covering a limited period of time. TSA is currently analyzing the results of the data provided by Amtrak for any potential security benefits.
The PIA establishes rigorous privacy protections that Amtrak must follow to provide TSA with rail passenger personally identifiable information (PII) collected over the course of several months. The PIA also makes clear that Amtrak will provide TSA only historical passenger manifests—meaning manifests of already-completed travel—for rail travel on routes in the Northeast corridor during a several-month period. TSA is not vetting Amtrak travelers before they travel.
In an April 8 statement, TSA said it published the PIA pursuant to the E-Government Act of 2002 because this assessment entailed a new receipt of personally identifiable information (PII) on members of the public for watch list matching. “The assessment was for research purposes only and the collection of data has ended,” the statement said. “Analytic results shared with Amtrak by TSA contain no personally identifiable information.”