Thank Goodness My Middle Name Isn't Bin

Posted June 9, 2009
Thanks to the IDIS Journal folks for their Twitter post about new formalities to be introduced by the US Transport Security Administration (TSA). According to this article from the SJ Mercury, the TSA’s watch list is compiled in “full name” format – i.e., according to US conventions: first name, middle name, last name – and they will expect all air travel bookings to document passenger names in the same format.
The twist is, apparently, that what they will really be looking for is a passenger name in the booking record which exactly matches the passenger name in the accompanying identity document (passport, US ‘enhanced driver’s license’, etc). However, what I didn’t know is that it is also valid for those to be issued with the holder’s name in the format “first name, middle initial, last name”… thus opening up the possibility of a mis-match between the credential and the watch-list format, even though the credentials in question are valid.
In my case the fun will include the question of whether the TSA’s new matching system can cope with people who have two middle names.
I always got a laugh out of those US police shows where a ‘perp’ with only two names was automatically given a set of police-issue initials… “NMI”, standing for “No Middle Initial”. There’s something glorious about that level of recursive absurdity.
–posted by Robin Wilton, Director of Privacy and Public Policy, Liberty Alliance