TSA to use maritime spec for worker ID

The Transportation Security Administration announced it has adopted a maritime industry specification for the Transportation Worker Identification Credential biometric reader and the contactless smart card.

TSA and the Coast Guard selected a recommendation advanced by the National Maritime Security Advisory Committee to require encryption and use of the so-called TWIC privacy key as the working specification for readers. The TWIC privacy key is a scheme advanced by the advisory committee to utilize encryption to protect information on the cards.

"If the readers that meet this working specification perform as planned during the pilot testing, we will finalize the specification as we complete the rulemaking that requires the use of readers," states the Sept. 20 Federal Register notice.

TSA said it adopted the encryption scheme to better protect the personal information on the cards. It stated that the TWIC privacy key model is less burdensome for maritime operators than other encryption models.

TSA also modified the advisory committee's specification to require that the contactless transmission of information between the card and reader should occur at a rate of at least 400,000 bits per second.

The TWIC has been in development and testing for at least three years, and in 2006 it was decided that the ID card should conform to the Federal Information Processing Standard 201 for government employees.

TWIC enrollment of port workers is expected to begin in October at the port of Wilmington, Del. It will advance to other ports shortly afterwards.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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