The Department of Homeland Security will take responsibility from airlines for checking passenger names against watch lists beginning in January and will require all commercial passengers for the first time to provide their full name, date of birth and sex as a condition of boarding a flight, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
The changes will be phased in next year for the 2-million passengers each day aboard domestic and international flights to, from or over the United States. It marks the Bush administration's long-delayed fulfillment of a top aviation security priority identified after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, an effort that has long spurred privacy concerns.
"Secure Flight will help us better protect the traveling public while creating a more consistent passenger prescreening process, ultimately reducing the number of misidentification issues," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said.
Over the years, countless travelers have faced difficulties because their names are similar to those on the agency's no-fly list or a second list of "selectees" identified for added questioning. To bolster the argument for the change, U.S. officials disclosed the number of individuals on the no-fly and selectee lists - fewer than 2,500 and 16,000, respectively. Fewer than 10 percent of individuals on the no-fly list and less than half of those named on the selectee list are U.S. citizens, Chertoff said.