TSA Now Needs Your Birthdate and Gender

It was just a couple of months ago that the TSA started requiring you to use your exact name as it appears on your ID, and now, they need more. As of last Saturday, August 15, you’ll have to give your birthdate and gender as well.

Ok, so it may not be exactly on August 15. Airlines had to start implementing it on that date, and full TSA Big Brothercompliance will be required in 2010. That means that every time you book a flight, you will have to provide your full name as it appears on your ID, your gender, and your birthdate. Annoying? I suppose. But they do have a reason for doing this. You can decide if it’s a good reason or not.

The reason is that it’s required for the ridiculously-named SecureFlight program to take off. We’ve talked about this before. Airlines currently handle the task of matching passengers to the watch lists. In this program, the government will be taking over that role, and they don’t want to deal with all the potential false positives.

Now with gender and birthdate, they can stop searching the 1 year old girl who just happens to be named Osama bin Laden and focus on closer matches instead. Sounds great, in theory. But we’ll see how this actually works.

What about the Dominican baseball player who forged his age as a youngster? Or what about the many refugees who may not even know the day they were born? What about the poor transgender folks who now have absolutely no idea which box to check so that the TSA doesn’t harass them further? The TSA put out a great Q&A with answers to these questions. In short, they just care that what you submit matches what’s on your government ID. So accuracy isn’t as important as conformity.

This information won’t be used at the checkpoint but rather before you ever arrive at the airport. Once you make a booking, they’ll run the data against the government watch lists to see if you need to be flagged. If not, then you’re fine. Everything will look the same at the airport as it does today. If there’s a problem, you’ll be flagged and they’ll deal with it at the ticket counter. Nothing changes at the security checkpoint.

It does appear that the TSA can share some of this information with other agencies, but supposedly only for purposes related to the watch list. Here’s the System of Records Notice (SORN) (pdf) describing that policy.

In the end, it doesn’t matter. We just have to go along with this if we want to travel. If we don’t, well, there might be more strip searches in your future. Of course, things could change now that it looks like we may be getting a new TSA administrator. I wouldn’t keep my fingers crossed.

31 Responses to TSA Now Needs Your Birthdate and Gender

  1. David SFeastbay says:

    For those that get an extra once over because they have the same name as someone on the list, it will be much easier for them. I have a friend who after years of flying (even with me) had someone with the same name appear on the list so he started to get flagged. He has one of the most generic simple American names one can have (no not John Smith) but was hasseled.

    Last week I had to go into my company’s travel data base and put in my middle name, date of birth, and gender so the travel department will have the info for making future reservations.

    I wonder when the day will come when we have to submit a DNA sample before we can fly. Can you just see having to spit in a cup at the airport to check the data base on who you really are.

  2. Steve Kalman says:

    This seems like an example of complaining when we get what we’ve been asking for.

    We’ve all seen countless complaints about people who get secondary screening because of ridiculous and obvious false positives and we’ve all complained about how stupid TSA is about it.

    Now, we have a program that asks for the same info on our drivers’ licenses and passports in order to at least partially solve the false positive problem. Seems like a step forward to me, with no additional (measurable) loss of privacy.

  3. Thomas Parody says:

    It’s a good thing that Richard Reid (the shoe bomber) didn’t stick something up his behind as rather than just taking our shoes off as one goes through security, we’d be getting a full cavity search!

  4. Vidiot says:

    accuracy isn’t as important as conformity.

    This has always been the case with the TSA.

  5. Richard says:

    There is nothing we can do and the fact remains what ever they ask for you have to give it to them. And frankly it isn’t so much that they ask, it is about the attitude they give when doing it. You know as well as I know something will cause someone to get detained by them and they will hassel the person. You can not even get through the regular security point without them shouting at someone or all. There are ways of doing it with niceness but they are on such an authority kick that they have forgotten how.

  6. I just totally mistrust anything that TSA does.

    They are all about theatre, they show a great distain for the Constitution, are of the belief that everyone is a suspect until proven otherwise, and are the reason that this frequent flyer now drives, even when impractical, instead of flies.

    I wonder if any of the airlines have done any studies to determine how much lost revenue TSA causes.

  7. JK says:

    Now let’s see, is it month-day-year, or day-month-year?

    Is that the date of birth where you were born, or the date based on Washington, DC time?

    Honestly, if people can be out there, all over this fair country, walking around, standing, protesting this and that, with their guns strapped to their legs, aren’t we going a bit overboard with this checking to see who/what is trying to get on an airplane?

  8. Andy says:

    Now, why is this required for all and not limited to the unfortunate who’re named as someone on the list? I’m confident my name is unique and don’t want to provide more info.

  9. CF says:

    JK – You won’t have to worry about the date format – the airlines will take care of that when they start collecting the data. And as for the day – it just has to match what’s on your ID. I know you’re probably being facetious, but I figured I’d answer anyway.

    Andy – How are they going to know in advance if you’re named on the list or not? It makes it easier this way for them.

  10. Oliver says:

    And since I can still print a boarding pass at home with whatever name I happen to have an ID for (to pass the TSA checker), which then may not be the same boarding pass (and name) that I used for the reservation, what good exactly does this change do?

  11. Expendible Eater says:

    I’m not sure what I fear more, the draconian powers that the TSA thinks that it has or the brain dead comments left here by previous commentors to this story.

    Has anyone here even thought to wonder where the TSA is getting this power from? For those that don’t understand, we have two critical documents that frame everything the government can do. One is called the Declaration of Independence and the other is called the US Constitution.

    When you read these documents, you will learn that the US Government or its agencies simply to not have the power to engage in such activities on sovereign and free individuals.

    Where is the outrage?

  12. Vidiot says:

    Oliver raises an excellent point, and highlights just one of the massive holes in aviation security that the TSA hasn’t done a thing to fix.

    And as security expert Bruce Schneier puts it, the watch list is comprised of people who are supposedly too dangerous to fly, but not dangerous enough to arrest.

  13. Oliver says:

    @Vidiot — and I suspect in Arizona they can stand at a street corner with a loaded automatic rifle. Or does the weapon purchase background check involve a check of the “no fly” list?

  14. Lindsey says:

    Sounds like this is a step in the right direction.

    I have been pulled into secondary screening and it was a total pain, missed my connection. If by providing my bday and gender will stop that from happeing in the future, I’m all for it.

  15. Expendible Eater says:

    Can someone here please explain to me exactly what we are protecting ourselves from with all of these TSA checks?… and where the government gets the power to make people submit to them?

    Does anyone here know who Zbigniew Brzezinski is?

    This discussion here is just astounding? Are you people Americans?

  16. CF says:

    Expendible Eater wrote:

    Can someone here please explain to me exactly what we are protecting ourselves from with all of these TSA checks?… and where the government gets the power to make people submit to them?
    Does anyone here know who Zbigniew Brzezinski is?
    This discussion here is just astounding? Are you people Americans?

    I suppose that people are incredibly jaded when it comes to the TSA. If they do something that can make someone’s life easier, then it seems like a win when in fact it’s still worse than it was just a few years ago.

    So what are you suggesting that people do in this case? I’m personally hoping that a new TSA administrator takes a different tact, but we will hopefully find out about that soon. Until then, if we want to fly, what would you suggest?

    And regarding former National Security Advisor Brzezinski, what’s your point?

  17. Expendible Eater says:

    CF wrote:

    Expendible Eater wrote:
    Can someone here please explain to me exactly what we are protecting ourselves from with all of these TSA checks?… and where the government gets the power to make people submit to them?
    Does anyone here know who Zbigniew Brzezinski is?
    This discussion here is just astounding? Are you people Americans?

    I suppose that people are incredibly jaded when it comes to the TSA. If they do something that can make someone’s life easier, then it seems like a win when in fact it’s still worse than it was just a few years ago.
    So what are you suggesting that people do in this case? I’m personally hoping that a new TSA administrator takes a different tact, but we will hopefully find out about that soon. Until then, if we want to fly, what would you suggest?
    And regarding former National Security Advisor Brzezinski, what’s your point?

    The TSA simply does not have the power to exercise these acts upon the American people. What I find astonishing is that that concept seems to have been lost on people, as they devolve into meaningless discussion on saving a few minutes of time or mitigating their inconvenience while traveling. The discussion is beyond disappointing. It’s an insult to what this country has fought over 200 years for.

    So, what should we do. We should not stand for this sort of encroachment on our lives by elitist controllers. If an significant portion of the American population were to simply refuse these invasions into our lives by Government, then the airlines would come begging the public to return. We are the masters here, not the elitists. But instead of exercising our power, we cower in fear and applaud when they save us 5 minutes. Stand up to this, that’s what people should be doing!

    With respect to Brzezinski, I asked the question because he was the key player in founding, funding and developing middle east Terrorism, initially in an effort to engage the Russians in conflict. Hence, this entire discussion on how to best protect the American public from terrorism is misguided, as we are not the problem, it is rogue elite and government actors who create these scenarios. If we want to protect ourselves, then we should be curtailing the covert acts of people such as Brzezinski.

  18. Edward J Ross says:

    The whole procedure along with the watch list is an exercise in stupidity. If a person can pass the security screening and has no weapons with him, why shouldn’t he fly no matter what organizations he might belong to.

  19. I used to love travelling and for the most part still do, but I hate going througth airports with all the security and searching etc. Yeh I know it has to be done but the buzz I used to get I get to the airport has gone.

  20. CF says:

    The more I think about it, the more it really does bother me how jaded we’ve all become in regards to airport security in general. I really hope the new TSA administrator comes in and looks at some of these absurd policies and tries to make a wholesale shift in strategy.

  21. Expendible Eater says:

    I bought a set of R/T tickets BEFORE Aug 15th for travel in early September. There is no way in the world I am giving the airlines or TSA my birthdate. They can search my bags and scan me to see if I am carrying weapons or hazardous/dangerous materials, but I cherish my privacy and I am drawing the line here.

    I will be writing the airlines a letter telling them that I will honor the contract that I entered into with them BEFORE August 15th, but if they are going to unilaterally change the terms of the contract then I want a refund, at a minimum… and may consider suing for damages as I would have made other travel arrangements had I known that these new terms would be stipulated AFTER my ticket purchase.

    If enough people simply stood up and stood their ground, the airlines will grovel for the publics return. Cowering in fear to their demands is simply unamerican!

  22. CF says:

    Expendible Eater wrote:

    I bought a set of R/T tickets BEFORE Aug 15th for travel in early September. There is no way in the world I am giving the airlines or TSA my birthdate. They can search my bags and scan me to see if I am carrying weapons or hazardous/dangerous materials, but I cherish my privacy and I am drawing the line here.

    Well, you won’t have to worry about that. It’s all based on ticketing date since that’s when the watch list matching occurs. Nothing is different at the airport. It looks like you were gearing up for a good fight, but you’ll have to wait until you next book something (and the airlines have caught up with the technology). Definitely report back on what happens when you refuse to give the info next time you book. I’m curious.

  23. David SFeastbay says:

    @ Expendible Eater:

    It’s not the airlines who came up with this. If you are not happy you need to write your elected officials in Washington, D.C..

  24. Expendible Eater says:

    David SFeastbay wrote:

    @ Expendible Eater:
    It’s not the airlines who came up with this. If you are not happy you need to write your elected officials in Washington, D.C..

    The airlines are implementing this, are they not? And my contract is with the airlines, is it not?

    Now, if I am not asked to comply with this requirement on this trip, then I indeed will need to wait in order to see the terms of the new contract that I enter into when I purchase my next ticket AFTER Aug 15th.

    But you are correct, the Government is also complicit.

    As for the airlines, I simply will not engage in a contract with this private party if they are going to demand my date of birth. I’ll simply find other travel services. I’m more than happy to compensate them for their service, but I will not provide them with anything else as part of our private contract, irrespective of the government’s stipulations.

    As for the government, this encroachment on the public’s privacy is outrageous and we should have never allowed this cat out of the bag. I’m more than miffed at the lack of outrage I sense here. The only threat that we have to our safety and security is by the domestic encroachment on our liberties by those who have usurped the power of our Government, which is exactly what the founder warned us about.

  25. Buck30 says:

    Didn’t they have this info already? they ARE the Government.

  26. CF says:

    Buck30 wrote:

    Didn’t they have this info already? they ARE the Government.

    Yup, that’s exactly why they’re asking. They already have the info in their databases, so now they want to match it up with what you tell them to see if they get a match. Er, uh, something like that.

  27. JK says:

    We are all concerned for our safety when we fly. But, it’s obvious that the government can come up with a million reasons why they need this data and much, much more, all in the belief this will make our travel safer. And, it’s the nature of the beast, no bureaucrat, as I was for my working life, will ever be satisfied until he/she has that one more piece of information, Just doing our jobs!

    But, honestly, doesn’t this really go back to the airlines’ coming up with the idea that they had to have a name on every ticket they sell? “Well, now I have your name, so I guess you won’t object to my asking [sure, sure, the government asking, wink! wink!] everything under the sun about you from birth to near death!”

    And, why do the airlines need your name? It’s the whole stupid basis for how they sell and price their tickets! Oh, I forgot!, notifying next of kin, just in case! Sure! And, why not have you call your local police every time you take a car trip, and notify them, with your name, that you’re about to get on the local public highway? Notification of next of kin, just in case, you know! This is nuts!

    Gradually, we all have to start thinking about peeling back this insatialble desire for private information related to taking a airline trip. Not saying I have all the answers, but really!

  28. mark says:

    I see a familiar pattern everytime someone claims TSA is committing some abuse. The claim gets made and no matter what the abuse is you can count on some people blindly defending TSA’s actions. I think they could make anyone who wants to fly, fly naked, and there would be a segment of the population who’d see that as perfectly justifiable.

    At some point, we have to stop irrationally defending the blind and arbitrary assertion of government power based on events that happened eight years ago (9-11).

    In the time I’ve flown since 9/11, I’ve had my kid’s toys confiscated (looked like a weapon), I’ve had shampoo and other liquids taken (took me years to figure out the rules concerning carrying liquids on board), I’ve been threatened by overzealous security nuts who didn’t like my attitude, and I’ve wasted hours in airport security lines.

    What the security naziis have accomplished is to make me think constantly everytime I have to fly. I go over the clothing I wear (will my belt buckle set off metal detector). I try to figure out what shoes will let me pass through the machine as well. I pray that I won’t leave anything behind while moving through the security line because of the fast, hurry up, hurry up, pace they make you move at.

    Flying is a nightmare anymore. I’m smart enough to know we probably aren’t going to get much change for the better. We need to focus on not letting these naziis have any more power than they currently do.

  29. CJ says:

    Hah. Thank you for adding that comment:

    “What about the poor transgender folks who now have absolutely no idea which box to check so that the TSA doesn’t harass them further?”

    It definitely made my day. We have a hard enough time getting through security when our “gender” doesn’t match what we look like. As well as the new problem caused by the entrance gate pat-down. I definitely had a nervous TSA worker have to ask if I had to be searched by a man or woman on my last international flight.

    On top of all that, the measures they’ve been tacking on to the already frivolous list of security checks really aren’t keeping us any safer. It’s just destroying privacy. Soon, no personal belongings will be allowed on the plane, we’ll be given an itchy hospital gown and be told to board the plane in nothing else but our nitty-gritties to ensure our security.

  30. Steve says:

    It is a violation of my privacy. I have a job interview in which the company is flying me out for the interview and I had to give the my DOB so they could buy my airline ticket. I might see how age discrimination works. If so It is the TSA fault, It is a big problem and they are not being very sensitive to this.
    I think they should do something else with out violating my privacy. Since companies cant ask your age this takes care of that. This is just another problem with this poorly managed company

  31. Wendy says:

    I encountered the same problem as Steve. Had to give my date of birth to a company I was interviewing with so they could purchase my ticket for an on site interview. I was worried about age discrimination but could not figure out a way around this requirement so I provided the requested information. I haven’t heard a thing from them since. Interview is supposed to be this week. Guess I am just too old to even bother interviewing in person.
    It appears to be a blatant case of age discrimination but there is nothing I can do about it.
    It was a job with a very well known company and one that I was very well qualified for. Also, I really need the job.
    The TSA has certainly made it very easy for age discrimination to take place.

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