Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System Law & Legal Definition


The Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System is a system to combat terrorism. This system is in place in the U.S. air travel industry. It is often abbreviated as CAPPS. This counter-terrorism program was implemented in the late 1990s.

Pursuant to 49 USC § 114 (h)(2)[1], the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) maintains a watchlist that contains names of individuals who either pose or are suspected of posing, a risk of air piracy or terrorism or a threat to airline or passenger safety. The list is used to identify terrorists attempting to buy plane tickets or board planes traveling in the United States, and to mitigate perceived threats.

On booking a plane ticket, the airline authorities collect certain information (for example, name, address, telephone number of the applicant) from the applicant. The CAPPS collects such passenger information and checks it against certain information (for example, FBI’s ten most wanted fugitive list,No-Fly list, watch list) and assigns terrorism risk score to the passenger. Based on the risk scores, the passenger may be required to submit to additional screening tests. In some cases, they may also be asked to contact law enforcement officials.