Secure Flight is a government program whereby the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) matches the no-fly and selectee watch lists against passenger data for domestic flights. It essentially requires government permission as a precondition for Americans to travel in their own country. Secure Flight is scheduled to be implemented in January 2009 and brought online incrementally, airline by airline.
The Secure Flight program has been broadly criticized as an unnecessary and unworkable grasping overreach of power by the Department of Homeland Security. The most egregious result of this program is our unacceptable loss of freedom and liberty in the flawed attempt to further national security. Identification-based security has substantial weaknesses and does little to actually protect travelers or the country. Empowering our government to collect data on our movements, and requiring that we first obtain permission from it to travel domestically sets an extremely dangerous precedent. Secure Flight disregards our constitutional protections against the dangers of government tyranny.
Presently, the Airlines are given watchlists generated by the Terrorist Screening Center and the Airlines check their domestic flight manifests against it. If a passenger is on the watchlist, they are denied access to the flight and the “authorities” are called. Under Secure Flight, the flow of data reverses and the Airlines themselves transmit information on their passengers (name, sex, date of birth, etc.) directly to the government who then checks the data against their watchlists internally. TSA claims that the data on those not suspected of being a threat to aviation would be purged within seven days after the flight. Given their track record, it seems unlikely that we are being told the truth about what data the government collects or how long they retain it. Government recordation of the domestic travel data on all Americans is a scary prospect.