Secure Flight cited as fix for lag in 'no-fly list' update

IT program said to eliminate a security gap evident after the recent attempted bombing in Times Square

The Homeland Security Department’s multi-phase information technology program to remove U.S. airlines from the process of checking would-be fliers against aviation-related watchlists would ensure passengers are checked against up-to-date information, DHS' top intelligence official said today.

Caryn Wagner, Homeland Security undersecretary for intelligence and analysis, told a House panel that the Secure Flight program would be a major tool for homeland security and law enforcement officials. Wagner testified at a hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee’s Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment Subcommittee.

Secure Flight is being used by some carriers and is expected to be fully in place for domestic and international carriers by the end of 2010. Under the program airlines must gather a passenger's full name, date of birth and gender when fliers make an airline reservation. The Transportation Security Administration uses that information to help determine if the passenger matches an entry on the no-fly or selectee watch lists. Under Secure Flight, TSA is expected to fully take over the process from all airlines by the end of this year.


Related story: TSA launches Secure Flight for passengers


Faisal Shahzad, who allegedly attempted to set off a car bomb in New York City's Times Square on May 1, was reportedly added to the no-fly list after that incident. However, he was allowed to board an aircraft before authorities arrested him because the airline involved apparently didn’t check him against an update to the list when he purchased a ticket at the last minute.

Since that incident, DHS’ TSA has required airlines to check for updates to the no-fly list more frequently.

“We will not have this problem anymore” when the program is fully in place, Wagner said.

 

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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