//Terror effect: Indian airports introduce passenger profiling

Terror effect: Indian airports introduce passenger profiling

Renni Abraham, DNAINDIA.COM, Tuesday, August 29, 2006  

MUMBAI: India has become the eighth country in the world to introduce passenger profiling at airports in the wake of recent terrorist strikes.
Known internationally as the Advance Passenger Information Control System (APICS), passenger profiling is in place in seven countries, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Korea.
After the serial train blasts in Mumbai, it has been introduced at New Delhi airport as Advance Profiling System (APS). Plans are afoot to introduce the system in Mumbai by January 2007.
Confirming the launch of the pilot project, Ruchin Gupta, assistant customs commissioner at Delhi airport, told DNA: “The APS was introduced to check narcotics smuggling. But, after the blasts, verbal instructions were issued to expose this data analysis system to other passengers as well. So, about four to five passengers per flight are flagged red on the basis of risk parameters considered by the APS.”
With about 75 flights daily, that’s about 320 passengers picked up by the APS data analysis for closer scrutiny by customs and immigration officials daily.

“The risk parameters include passenger details given to us before take-off, like where the ticket was purchased, whether the payment was in cash or by card, the address, etc. The system flags certain passengers based on these. This results in increased workload, but it also means more precise and logically arrived at results,” Gupta said.
Before this system was introduced, officials relied on instinct alone.
A senior customs officer at Mumbai airport confirmed the plan to introduce a similar system. “Once a database is created, it will facilitate faster clearances for frequent flyers while past offenders will be immediately flagged,” he said.
He said passengers were being subjected to more checks following the blasts, and it was inevitable that people who were not regular travellers would invite scrutiny.

“The narcotics trade is predominantly the handiwork of African nationals. So our systems include nationals of certain African countries for additional screening. The bomb blasts, the predominance of the Qaeda network, have similarly given rise to new risk parameters to prevent suicide bombers from boarding flights,” the officer said.

Gupta, however, conceded that the extension of passenger profiling to all travellers in the last 20 days had provoked some anger. “We get frequent complaints from passengers who feel that our stringent checks are only a manifestation of red tape at its worst,” he said. “We try to make the passengers feel that they are not being singled out and even explain our reasons for being suspicious. Most passengers understand, given the increased terror threat.”

He said passengers were being subjected to more checks following the blasts, and it was inevitable that people who were not regular travellers would invite scrutiny. “The narcotics trade is predominantly the handiwork of African nationals. So our systems include nationals of certain African countries for additional screening.

The bomb blasts, the predominance of the Qaeda network, have similarly given rise to new risk parameters to prevent suicide bombers from boarding flights,” the officer said. Gupta, however, conceded that the extension of passenger profiling to all travellers in the last 20 days had provoked some anger.

“We get frequent complaints from passengers who feel that our stringent checks are only a manifestation of red tape at its worst,” he said.
“We try to make the passengers feel that they are not being singled out and even explain our reasons for being suspicious. Most passengers understand, given the increased terror threat.”