DHS to automate watch list feeds

New program to centralize process for managing terrorist watch list data

The Homeland Security Department plans to automate and centralize the process through which it receives data from the government’s consolidated terrorist watch list.

DHS and the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center (TSC), which maintains the consolidated database, are putting in place a program called DHS Watchlist Service (WLS). WLS will replace multiple data feeds from TSC to Homeland Security agencies that handle various missions such as counterterrorism, law enforcement and border security, the department’s privacy office said in an assessment of the program.

“WLS will allow TSC and DHS to move away from a manual and cumbersome process of data transmission and management to an automated and centralized process,” the Watchlist Service said.

The government’s watchlisting system has come under fire over the past year after failed bombing attempts aboard an airplane en route to Detroit and in New York City.


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WLS consists of commercial and government off-the-shelf products, according the assessment. The office said it won’t receive any additional data through WLS and that the system – which will be put in place in phases – was created to increase efficiency, the DHS office explained.

Programs that are run by DHS’ Transportation Security Agency and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), as well as the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program will use WLS.

CBP is the technical steward for WLS. DHS will ensure that WLS data is used properly and in an authorized way through a memorandum of understanding, the privacy office said.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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