Airport Plan: No Big Deal or Big Brother?

Airports, security, flying, generic, tsa
Airports, security, flying, generic, tsa
CBS

It happens hundreds of times every day - innocent passengers are stopped at airport checkpoints because their names happen to match one of the million plus names on the terrorist watch list.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, civil rights advocate Congressman John Lewis and CBS News national security Correspondent David Martin are among those who've been repeatedly held up by misidentifications.

Now, the TSA says a new program called "Secure Flight" will virtually eliminate those misidentifications by requiring passengers to turn over additional personal information when they buy tickets, reports CBS News correspondent Bob Orr.

"By the data that we ask for which again is the name, date of birth, and gender, Secure Flight will clear more than 99 percent of the travelers," said Paul Leyh, with the Transportation Security Administration.

For many passengers who are already taking off their shoes, unpacking their laptops and putting their toiletries in little plastic bags, this latest security requirement is no big deal.

"It doesn't bother me so much except for the fact that then I have to be reminded how old I really am when I don't feel that old," said one passenger.

But privacy advocates see an over-reaching big brother.

"It's part of a longtime expansion by the TSA of the information that they collect on American travelers," said John Verdi, of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

The demand for birthdates and gender information is part of a shift that now has the government and not airlines in charge of checking passenger names against the watch list - a key recommendation of the 9-11 Commission.