by James Moore
A few years after the Department of Homeland Security developed its No Fly List and No Fly Watch or "Selectee" List, the Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle reported the screening system was based on an algorithmic software known as Soundex. A crude, antiquated algorithm developed in 1918 to analyze U.S. Census data, Soundex is based on the English language and, as a result, has a few deficiencies when it comes to trying to match Arabic names.
Soundex works, generally, by removing vowels from names and then assigning numerical values to the remaining consonants.
To see just how poorly Soundex performs, visit http://nofly.s3.com
and type in your name to assess your chances of being on the No Fly or Watch List. This is the only known publicly available site for checking your name against potential terrorist identities and databases. It was developed by S3 Matching Technologies of Austin, Texas. The company's database technicians merged the best known data on terrorists with the Soundex system to create the site.
Homeland Security continues to use an algorithm that is approaching 100 years of age to deal with a 2007 problem. It finds about 85% false matches. By using software from this century, and still matching nothing more than names as data points, the federal government could improve the system by a minimum of 50 percent and remove tens of thousands of innocent travelers from the list. The current system tags so many airline passengers that TSA screeners are too busy dealing with non-terrorists to notice if any of the real bad guys slip past.
In the meantime, Homeland Security has put up a new web site asking you for personal information if you think you are wrongly listed and want to be removed from the data base. The Travelers' Redress Inquiry Program ( http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/redress/index.shtm
) is supposed to facilitate an easy removal of your name from the No Fly lists, if you have been incorrectly tagged by Soundex. I have already proved my citizenship to TSA and Homeland Security dozens of times with similar documents as those required by the TRIP site. But I remain on the list, as do thousands of other innocent Americans. Regardless, I have filled in the TRIP forms and have sent in the requisite copies of documents.
for more info see:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-moore/are-you-on-the-no-fly-lis_b_42443.html