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Four Alaskans have filed suit against the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), seeking to prevent the agency deleting personal records that were obtained during a passenger-screening programme. The TSA has denied that it holds records on Anchorage-based Bill Beck and Sally Huntley (both travel agents) and John Davis and Charles Beckley, but the Alaskans want the agency to check more thoroughly.

According to reports the four are keen to see whether any information relating to them was obtained by the Agency, which is already in the process of deleting unwanted files.

“Until the court has determined that they conducted an adequate search for my clients' documents, I think the document destruction should cease," Jim Harrison, lawyer for the four, told Wired News.

The legal action comes in the wake of a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, which found that the TSA had violated privacy laws in using personal information to test the programme, known as Secure Flight.

Secure Flight was a security measure brought in under the Transportation Security Act to check the names of airline passengers against lists of terrorist suspects but, according to the GAO, it also resulted in the gathering of over 100 million records from databases legitimately held by three commercial data companies, covering details such as names, addresses and phone numbers.

The TSA wanted to check the 43,000 names obtained from airline data records against the databases, but also checked against 200,000 other versions of the names.

This meant that the 100 million records returned on the 243,000 names related to a large number of people who had not actually flown in June 2004 – the month advertised by the TSA as the one in which it would be collecting data.

Copyright © 2005, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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