Better air passenger prescreening expected in 2009 - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Better air passenger prescreening expected in 2009

WASHINGTON. - The government is putting the finishing touches on a program aimed at doing a better job of checking the names of airline passengers against terror watchlists.

The program is supposed to take effect early next year. It's called Secure Flight, and would validate air travelers' information so that there's less chance a person could be mistaken for someone else who's on a watch list.

The program has been delayed several times because of privacy concerns.

As it stands now, passenger prescreening for domestic flights is handled by the airlines, but the airlines don't always use the most up-to-date watch lists.

Under the new program, the airlines will have to collect a passenger's full name, gender and birth date. They currently just collect the passenger's name.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says the system will help protect the traveling public, while reducing misidentifications.

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