WASHINGTON — An ambitious program to check every domestic airline passenger's name against government terrorist watch lists may not be immune from hackers, a congressional investigator said Thursday.
And because of security concerns, the government is going back to the drawing board with the program called Secure Flight after spending four years and $150 million on it, the Senate Commerce Committee was told.
Transportation Security Administration chief Kip Hawley did not say whether any security breaches had been discovered.
An agency spokeswoman, Amy von Walter, told reporters, "We don't believe any passenger information has been compromised."
Cathleen Berrick, the investigator for the Government Accountability Office, said in written testimony that "TSA may not have proper controls in place to protect sensitive information."
Currently, airlines check the names of passengers against watch lists that the government gives them.
Under Secure Flight the government would take over from the airlines the task of checking names against watch lists.
According to the GAO testimony, Secure Flight was given formal authority to go live in September, but a government team found that the system software and hardware had 82 security vulnerabilities.