All US-Bound Planes Will Supply Passenger Information to TSA

Each and every one of 197 airlines that fly to or through the United States will now collect and share passenger information with the government to be checked against terror watch lists.

The Obama administration announced Tuesday the names, genders and birth dates of all passengers will be gathered and checked before the planes fly into the U.S.

According to the Associated Press, the move completes one of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations, marking a milestone in the government's counterterrorism efforts. For several years, the program has been delayed due to privacy concerns and three revisions.

The program, called "Secure Flight," was designed to increase the amount of time U.S. authorities have to identify and remove suspected terrorists. In addition, the program should reduce the number of instances when innocent passengers are mistakenly identified. Post September 11th, thousands of passengers have been misidentified, including well-known figures like former Senator Ted Kennedy.

In the past, airlines were responsible for checking passenger lists against terror watch lists. Since the only identifying information airlines had was a name, they could easily be mistaken for other people on the watch list. Even children, such as eight-year-old Mikey Hicks and five-year-old Sam Adams had to deal with airport drama. Now that gender and age information will be shared, there should be fewer incidents.

Under the new program, when people make a flight reservation their information will be sent to a Secure Flight database run by the Transportation Security Administration within seconds, TSA Administrator John Pistole said.

The program has been phased in over the past year, with many travelers already supplying their gender, birth date and full name when purchasing tickets.

Photo by Ted Percival on flickr

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