TSA launches Secure Flight for passengers

The Transportation Security Administration has taken over terrorist watch-list screening for four domestic airlines under its Secure Flight program and expects to be screening all domestic flights by early 2010.

TSA also intends to screen all international airline passengers by the end of 2010, the agency said in a news release issued March 31.

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, airlines have been responsible for checking passenger names against federal terrorist watch lists. TSA made two earlier efforts to perform its own screenings under the Computer-Assisted Passenger Prescreening System Versions I and II, but those projects were dropped due to privacy and security concerns.

The Secure Flight screening program has been in development since 2004 and has been delayed by privacy and cybersecurity concerns.

"The implementation of Secure Flight is a critical step toward mitigating threats we know exist in our aviation system," TSA Acting Administrator Gale Rossides said. "Secure Flight improves security and protects passenger privacy and civil liberties by ensuring the confidentiality of government watch-list matching protocols."

Under Secure Flight, airlines must gather a passenger's full name, date of birth and gender when making an airline reservation. TSA uses that information to help determine if the passenger matches an entry on the no-fly or selectee watch lists.

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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