The Transportation Security Administration has finally begun implementing Secure Flight, after a controversial five-year gestation.
Under the program, first recommended by the 9/11 Commission, TSA will gradually take over responsibility for terrorist watch-list screening from individual airlines. TSA intends to be screening all domestic flights by the beginning of 2010 and all international flights by the end of 2010.
As the program is phased in, airlines will become responsible for ensuring that the names passengers provide when purchasing tickets match the names on their government-issued IDs, the identification passengers show at TSA airport security checkpoints. TSA has said that, in the "short term," small differences between a passengers’ ID and reservation information—such as a missing middle initial— "will not be an issue for passengers." But it warned that "over time, passengers should strive to obtain consistency between the name on their government-issued ID and the travel information they use for booking flights."
Beginning August 15, passengers will be required to provide their gender and date of birth when booking flights.
Secure Flight was first introduced in 2004, and then delayed in 2006 as accuracy problems and privacy issues continued to dog the program. TSA says that since then it has worked extensively to ensure the program maximizes individual privacy.