Talks on sharing Central American passenger data
U.S. and Central American government officials met May 9 to discuss the concept of a regional targeting center for sharing and analyzing passenger data to enable authorities to make security assessments prior to boarding an airplane.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection last week said Commissioner Alan Bersin hosted the meeting in Washington with ambassadors and representatives from seven Central American countries and the Dominican Republic.
Last November, Panama signed a joint information agreement with the Department of Homeland Security and agreed to work with the United States and Mexico on gathering and analyzing advance traveler information.
|Representatives of several Central American countries recently met with CBP officials to discuss aviation security.|
CBP operates two National Targeting Centers — one for travelers and one for cargo — where automated systems match passenger name records or advance cargo data submitted by airlines against terrorist watch lists or sets of rules that are leading indicators of potential threats. CBP is working with the air cargo industry to obtain some of the advance data at an earlier point so risk targeting can be completed before departure from a foreign airport.
Panama's President Martinelli signed a joint information agreement with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano last November and has agreed to work with the United States and Mexico on gathering and analyzing advance traveler information.
CBP said the May 9 talks were to explore the value of closer collaboration among a wider group of nations to identify high-risk passengers, namely by sharing law enforcement information in a secure environment.
The agency is essentially trying to help other nations seeking support to develop their own targeting capabilities to screen passengers and pull out for further questioning those that raise concerns a CBP official said on background.
Bersin said any data systems used for a targeting center would be secure and that each participating government would retain complete sovereignty over its national data, according to CBP's description of the meeting posted online.
The meeting followed a tour of CBP's National Targeting Center. CBP plans further discussions of the joint center during meetings to be held in Central America this summer, it said. ' Eric Kulisch