The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has announced that the Transportation Security Administration finally will take the reins in checking passenger names against "no-fly" lists -- a task still managed by the airlines.
The program, known as Secure Flight, will launch in early 2009, when the TSA will begin prescreening travelers on all domestic flights. Later in the year, the agency will assume control of international screening.
Secure Flight will work in the following manner: When purchasing a ticket, a passenger will submit his or her name, date of birth and gender. The airlines will pass this information along to the TSA, which will then give the thumbs-up -- or down.
The DHS has said this private information will be retained by the government for no more than one week, unless suspect information is discovered.
"Ensuring privacy has been a cornerstone of this program, and TSA has developed a comprehensive privacy plan to incorporate privacy laws and practices into all areas of Secure Flight," said TSA administrator Kip Hawley in a statement.
It was in July 2004 that the Sept. 11 Commission released its report, including policy recommendations to prevent future attacks. One of these was that prescreening should be performed by the TSA, and that the agency should have use of the larger set of watch lists maintained by the federal government.