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Gilmore Loses Airport ID Case 521

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the no-comment dept.
smooth wombat writes "In the final conclusion to John Gilmore's fight to be able to fly on an airplane without providing identification, the United States Supreme Court, without comment, let stand an appeals court ruling which said that Gilmore's rights are not violated by being required to show proof of identity. Gilmore had argued that without being able to see the law which says one must provide identification before being allowed to board a plane, there is no way to know if the regulations call for impermissible searches."
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Gilmore Loses Airport ID Case

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  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:49PM (#17511678)
    You can fly without ID. You could when Gilmore's case started, and you still can now. In fact, here's how [schneier.com]. In fact, Gilmore's own site tells you how [papersplease.org], in the form of the court decision specifically authorizing it.

    The exact wording:

    The identification policy requires airline passengers to present identification to airline personnel before boarding or be subjected to a search that is more exacting than the routine search that passengers who present identification encounter.

    The very page describing the case [papersplease.org] says that he would have been allowed to travel at SFO without ID if he submitted to a search. That alone devastates the "secret ID law" claim, as allowing him to fly without ID, search or not, would have been in violation of that law.

    First of all, his primary question is: Do citizens currently need to show ID in order to travel in their own country?

    The answer is a resounding "no". He is free to travel by foot, bike, motorcycle, car, boat, or other device himself while not violating applicable pedestrian or traffic laws, or by bus or train, entirely anonymously.

    Further, in his quest to "expose" this situation, he found at one of the largest airports in the country, San Francisco International Airport, that he WAS indeed allowed to fly without ID (if he submitted to a search).

    Claims variously made by privacy advocates assert that showing ID is worthless; that the September 11 hijackers all had valid, government issued photo ID. Sure they did. But some form of identification, fake or not, gives authorities a place to start in an investigation, rather than nothing at all.

    But please, even in light of that, remember: he WAS allowed to fly with no ID at SFO, and chose not to. I expect that he thought he'd find he would be denied everywhere, but then still chose not to fly at SFO simply because he didn't want to be searched and so it wouldn't stop his little "Achtung! Papers, please!" stunt before it started. That's his choice. And if you'd argue against a search, then you might as well argue against ALL security measures at airports.

    There are some discrepancies here, most likely because of lack of communication or lack of proper specific words used to define things. First, TSA directives are secret. But they're not "laws". That's why they're called security "directives". These directives instruct the airlines and airports in terms of how to handle security; they're not arbitrary requirements that passengers must submit to or know about ahead of time: they are guidelines and directives for the handling of security issues, some routine and some special or time-specific, within airport and airline processes. That's the TSA's job. And didn't some call for the federalization of airport security?

    I'm glad he's asking these questions, but I wish he'd be less sensationalistic and tinfoil-hat about it - especially since his primary claim is that he can't travel anonymously, which is not only tremendously wrong considering there are so many other public and private means to travel with no ID, but also because he would indeed have been able to fly with no ID.

    Yes, all the 9/11 hijackers had valid IDs. So what? The ID requirement doesn't pretend to "prevent" issues; it's simply a place to start for investigators AFTER an incident, regardless of whether the IDs were real or fake...enabling investigators to get a list of names (again, real or not), issuing agencies for the IDs, and sometimes even pictures (which are many times real, even if the ID itself is fake). This information could be critical to an investigation when other lives may be at stake.

    But, in any event, he already found he could travel by plane, without ID.
    • by iggymanz (596061) on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:55PM (#17511762)
      I disagree that investigators must have ID to start with for an investigation. Let them start with nothing other than the facts of the crime. The core of the matter is that we're allowing our government to assume we are criminals, which is evil and the basis of a police state. By default, the government does NOT need to know who I am or what I am doing. However, we've raised two generations of SHEEP who submit to whatever the government says without question, and who do not know what freedom is.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by daveschroeder (516195) *
        I disagree that investigators must have ID to start with for an investigation. Let them start with nothing other than the facts of the crime. The core of the matter is that we're allowing our government to assume we are criminals, which is evil and the basis of a police state. By default, the government does NOT need to know who I am or what I am doing. However, we've raised two generations of SHEEP who submit to whatever the government says without question, and who do not know what freedom is.

        Then, by all
        • by smooth wombat (796938) on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:08PM (#17511972) Homepage Journal
          to make people feel it is as safe as possible - which is a huge component of this, by the way, since people not living in fear of air travel is, in its own right, an important social and economic factor.


          Until I ask them what's to stop someone from standing in line with a large rucksack filled with explosives during say, the day before Thanksgiving? How about three people. One in the front of the line, one in the middle and one further back?

          I love the look of fear and horror on peoples faces when I pose that question.

          But we're safe because they ask for ID and run you through a metal detector, they tell me.

          But only after you've been standing in line, I reply.

          • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:15PM (#17512086)
            Until I ask them what's to stop someone from standing in line with a large rucksack filled with explosives during say, the day before Thanksgiving? How about three people. One in the front of the line, one in the middle and one further back?

            I love the look of fear and horror on peoples faces when I pose that question.


            Anyone who hasn't though of that is a moron.

            So do you have an idea of how many of those people we're dealing with?

            Hint: it's the same number of people who feel much safer because of all the additional "security precautions."

            So, should we educate them all and say, hey, you're far more likely to die falling off a ladder putting up Christmas lights than you would from a terrorist attack? Should we explain to them that we wouldn't be any fundamentally less secure if we had basically zero security at airports? (By the way, we do need to prevent things like guns and explosives from getting on the planes themselves - of course, that's another problem entirely and isn't related to ID.)

            I guess my question is, how do you tell people that it would have been acceptable to DO NOTHING with regard to air security after 9/11, and actually have them believe you?

            The problem is that someone falling off a ladder putting up lights is a tragedy. But no one (except friends and loved ones) cares. But when 20 or 200 or 2000 or 20000 people die at once, and when they die because someone who doesn't even know you HATES you with such fervent passion that they're still willing to kill you even after living in your own society for months or years, that bothers people. I don't think many people realistically, personally fear being killed by a "terrorist". They just want society at large to be protected from them.

            But we're safe because they ask for ID and run you through a metal detector, they tell me.

            But only after you've been standing in line, I reply.


            Yes, the sterile area is a big thing. But there's nothing stopping someone from doing exactly what you've suggested against any number of soft targets, like, say, the Mall of America or numerous other locations. The point with airline security is still really keeping the PLANES secure, for better or worse, and that doesn't just include the cockpit only or preventing planes from being used as missiles.
            • I guess my question is, how do you tell people that it would have been acceptable to DO NOTHING with regard to air security after 9/11, and actually have them believe you?

              No one is saying that. You're just putting words into everyone's mouths to make your arguments sound oh-so-much more insightful than they really are.
              • No, actually, a lot of people have been saying that - that most, if not all, of the air security changes after 9/11 were unnecessary and meaningless. So instead of claiming my argument is invalid because "no one is saying that", why don't you actually offer suggestions as to what should legitimately have been done after 9/11, keeping in mind that the ID requirement was actually instituted after TWA 800?
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  There is a big difference between saying "the changes that were made were unnecessary and meaningless" and "no changes should be made to the way airline security is handled." You're conflating the two for your own purposes.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by b0bby (201198)
            Of course, it would be easy to find large groups of people to blow up. The psychological effect is far less than blowing up an airplane, however. People are already afraid of flying, they don't want to add the fear that a bomb might go off in the air. ETA's bomb in Madrid isn't going to stop people from parking in garages; a bomb on a plane would make a lot of people change flight plans.
    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:57PM (#17511794)
      It is more about preventing people from re-selling their "special discount" non-refundable, non-transferable tickets.

      Now the airlines can restrict the use of those tickets to the person who purchased them and enforce that with the ID requirement.

      As has been stated, requiring ID does NOTHING for security because the hijackers all had ID.

      This is about making more money for the airlines, not making your trip any more secure.
      • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:06PM (#17511934)
        It's about the perception of security, and people demanded it.

        Do you really think the government - no matter who was in office - could have gotten away with making NO CHANGES to air security after 9/11?

        Can you imagine how that would play in the press, or if there was ever any other event, ever? Look at me with a straight face, and tell me that they could have reasonably done nothing to improve security, either real or perceived, or a combination of the two.
        • This isn't a question of making changes vs. not making changes. This is about making changes that temporarily made people feel better vs. making REAL changes that actually do some good. Do I feel safer now that I have to carry my ID and ticket in one hand, my jacket in another hand, my bag in another hand, my shoes in another hand, my laptop in another hand, my liquids in 3 oz or less containers in a clear ziplock baggie in other hand (whoops, I seem to have run out of hands 4 hands ago)? No. Because that t
        • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:23PM (#17512182)
          It's about the perception of security, and people demanded it.

          That is known as "Security Theatre". It is useless. It wastes money. That money could better be spent on improving the security.

          Do you really think the government - no matter who was in office - could have gotten away with making NO CHANGES to air security after 9/11?

          The changes that have been made have NOT improved the security. It's all theatrics. You are as vulnerable today to a bomb going off on a plane as you were in 2000.

          Can you imagine how that would play in the press, or if there was ever any other event, ever? Look at me with a straight face, and tell me that they could have reasonably done nothing to improve security, either real or perceived, or a combination of the two.

          You might want to look up "straw man" because I am not saying that "nothing" should be done.

          I'm saying that we should be focusing on actual security improvements rather than the "Security Theatre" that you're supporting.

          I'm saying that wasting money/time on theatrics is a NEGATIVE because that means there is less money/time to spend on REAL security improvements.

          I'm saying that every false positive is a FAILURE of the system and a DETRIMENT because it makes it that much more likely that a future true positive will be mistaken in the sea of false positives.
          • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:38PM (#17512418)
            I'm saying that we should be focusing on actual security improvements rather than the "Security Theatre" that you're supporting.

            Ok, what are the actual improvements, then?

            Wait, let me guess: something about cockpit doors or El-Al's security track record?

            Please enumerate exact suggestions for improvement, and why you feel the suggestion is not currently being implemented.

            But no, it's actually still important to keep weapons, explosives, and so on, off the planes and out of the cargo holds to begin with.

            The "security theater" aspect is important to people as unreasonable, emotional creatures. They felt safer with national guardsmen with unloaded weapons walking around the airports. No government could educate people to the point you expect, and make them magically feel like coming back to air travel was a safe, much less pleasant, thing to do.

            This isn't about straw men. It might be to you, but there are a lot of people who argue that the security that was already in place before 9/11 was "security theater", too. There are a lot of people who argue that all we really need are strong cockpit doors, and that anything else is an unwarranted invasion of privacy, and that even if there were a bombing every here and again, people should somehow be smart enough to just chalk it up to the price of living in a free society, and not be scared or worried.

            We can tolerate dying by accident or by our own choices, as tragic as they may be. What doesn't set well with us, no matter how statistically insignificant overall, is people dying in large numbers. What we don't tolerate, no matter how statistically miniscule, is people intentionally killing other Americans, even still feeling so strongly after having lived in our own society and culture for months or years. Many people want to see defined change they can comprehend that appears to be aimed at preventing such instances. Just like those people won't understand change they can't see, others likely will continue to doubt that there are and have been massive initiatives to improve security, communication, and intelligence at all levels, security "theater" aside.
            • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday January 08, 2007 @06:14PM (#17515134)


              Please enumerate exact suggestions for improvement, and why you feel the suggestion is not currently being implemented.

              First off, look at the issues LOGICALLY. What are the threats? How are they carried out?

              #1. Threat - Airplanes being hijacked and used as missiles.
              Solution - Stronger flightdeck doors. They should be strong enough to defeat a hijacker for at least 15 minutes so that the pilot can notify the authorities and land somewhere. There, you will no longer have the threat of airplanes being hijacked and used as missiles. A whole class of threats are removed with one change.

              #2. Threat - Airplanes being hijacked and flown to other countries.
              Solution - More undercover security on the planes.

              #3. Threat - Airplanes being blown up with bombs.
              Solution - Improve bomb detection at the entrances (including overwatch of baggage handlers).

              Spend some time reading "Attack trees" by Bruce Schneier.

              But no, it's actually still important to keep weapons, explosives, and so on, off the planes and out of the cargo holds to begin with.

              I did not say that it was not important.

              What I said was that the current practices do NOT make it any more difficult to smuggle weapons or bombs onto a plane now than in 2000.

              It might be to you, but there are a lot of people who argue that the security that was already in place before 9/11 was "security theater", too.

              And a lot of it was. But because it was then does not excuse it being so now.

              What doesn't set well with us, no matter how statistically insignificant overall, is people dying in large numbers.

              You are wrong. People die on the roads every day and yet most of us still have no problem driving.

              What we don't tolerate, no matter how statistically miniscule, is people intentionally killing other Americans, even still feeling so strongly after having lived in our own society and culture for months or years.

              No. The problem is how the media hype the statistically minuscule threats BECAUSE THEY ARE STATISTICALLY MINUSCULE.

              They are news because they are NEWS. Someone dying in a car wreck MAY make the local news. But that's it. It's common. It happens. Just about everyone knows of someone who died that way. It is not NEWS.

              To be news there has to be an element of uniqueness to it.

              Just like those people won't understand change they can't see, others likely will continue to doubt that there are and have been massive initiatives to improve security, communication, and intelligence at all levels, security "theater" aside.

              And what the fuck does THAT have to do with this discussion?

              I'm talking about security and what does and does not improve security. And how wasting money on practices that cause false positives is a NEGATIVE for security.

              You've gone off on some tangent about what some people "understand".

              You seem to be advocating Security Theatre because it makes people feel "good" even if it makes them less safe.
          • by dr_dank (472072)
            You might want to look up "straw man" because I am not saying that "nothing" should be done.

            I don't think thats what the GP was getting at. After 9/11, having a bad plan was seen as being better than no plan at all. Nothing would get the bureaucrats in hot water faster than giving even the appearance of doing nothing differently.

            The contribution to security from these measures is, at best, marginal, but as long as it makes people feel safe, it makes no real difference. Perception is reality.
          • I'm saying that we should be focusing on actual security improvements rather than the "Security Theatre" that you're supporting.

            Talk is cheap. I see no "improvements" in your post. One of my friends says the same thing you do. He bitches all the time about how "incompetent" TSA is. He says pretty much what you do, except his big thing is the typical Republican mantra of "Privitize it! Privitize it!" which ignores the fact that airport security was privitized prior to 9/11 at some of the airports used
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by rickwood (450707)
          The ID "requirement" was put in place after TWA Flight 800 in 1996. Just sayin'.
      • by ScentCone (795499)
        As has been stated, requiring ID does NOTHING for security because the hijackers all had ID.

        But you're conveniently ignoring the fact that things have changed, in the past 5 years (and will continue to) with regards to how easily one can get ID. It's not like we can only choose one thing to improve, and all we could opt for was making it harder to get on a plane without ID. We're also making it harder for scammers to get legitimate IDs, and making it harder for criminals to pass off forged IDs. It's goin
        • But you're conveniently ignoring the fact that things have changed, in the past 5 years (and will continue to) with regards to how easily one can get ID. It's not like we can only choose one thing to improve, and all we could opt for was making it harder to get on a plane without ID. We're also making it harder for scammers to get legitimate IDs, and making it harder for criminals to pass off forged IDs. It's going to take a while. But to suggest that because those jackasses were able to easily get IDs means that, thereafter, anyone will always be able to do the same - that's just BS, and you know it.

          It's all quite irrelevant because they don't run your ID numbers anyway. They just use it to match your name to your picture. None of these asshats will be able to recognize a professional fake ID, so the whole thing is worthless anyway.

          • by ScentCone (795499)
            It's all quite irrelevant because they don't run your ID numbers anyway. They just use it to match your name to your picture. None of these asshats will be able to recognize a professional fake ID, so the whole thing is worthless anyway.

            Look, even bouncers at bars are starting to have equipment that, with an ID-card-swipe, can get back a simple up/down legitimacy test for an ID. Not just a display of the magstripe contents, but a bounce off of the databse that issued it. When the ID someone's carrying do
            • by drinkypoo (153816)
              But as time goes by, there will be virtually no state/federal ID token that can't be tested for legitimacy more less instantly.

              The point is that the technology exists to check IDs today and they are not using it. I work in a Casino and we use a system that's actually integrated into our gaming management software which, when you scan an ID, will fill a new user template with the user's name and address information.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rsidd (6328)

        Now the airlines can restrict the use of those tickets to the person who purchased them and enforce that with the ID requirement...
        This is about making more money for the airlines, not making your trip any more secure.

        I don't know about you, but I'm glad that scalping and black-marketing are uncommon with airline tickets. It means I can still afford to fly. In other words, it's about saving more money for me.

        And I don't care if they know my real name. Lots of people do.

    • by ezzzD55J (697465)

      But some form of identification, fake or not, gives authorities a place to start in an investigation, rather than nothing at all.
      And why is that?
    • by saider (177166)
      Yes, all the 9/11 hijackers had valid IDs. So what? The ID requirement doesn't pretend to "prevent" issues; it's simply a place to start for investigators AFTER an incident, regardless of whether the IDs were real or fake...enabling investigators to get a list of names (again, real or not), issuing agencies for the IDs, and sometimes even pictures (which are many times real, even if the ID itself is fake). This information could be critical to an investigation when other lives may be at stake.

      They don't pho
    • by advocate_one (662832) on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:12PM (#17512042)
      The answer is a resounding "no". He is free to travel by foot, bike, motorcycle, car, boat, or other device himself while not violating applicable pedestrian or traffic laws, or by bus or train, entirely anonymously.

      for how much longer? How soon before being required to show ID when crossing a State Line? How soon before being required to show ID when checking into Hotels/Motels? How soon before being required to check in with the local police station when you intend to stay somewhere more than a few hours? How soon before having to get written permission before you can travel more than so many miles from your nominated place of residence?

      Slippery slope people... they'll nibble away at your "freedom" by adding little "reasonable seeming" requirements here and there... all in the name of protecting you from terrorism/saving the children from pedophiles/whatever the current "bete noir" is...

      • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:27PM (#17512242)
        Living in a secure, stable society of law and order comes with responsibilities and restrictions.

        Not everything is a slippery slope.

        The Franklin quote everyone likes to trot out usually leaves out a couple critical words:

        "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

        With those bolded words left out, it's the very witty and ominous warning people who quote it usually intend it to be. But with these words, suddenly, things become a bit more subjective. Is not having to show ID at an airport essential to my liberty? No, not remotely, in my own view. Is the safety gained from airport and airline security changes "temporary"? Again, no. Am I, personally, offended by the balance between liberty and security in general? Once again, no.

        I can see how people who legitimately believe we are becoming (or already are) a police state are deeply troubled by something like this. I know that many people like to think that it's exclusively about cultivating fear. Of course fear is a tool politicians and governments have used. It's been true for generations and will always continue to be true.

        Your mistake is believing that is EXCLUSIVELY what is happening, instead of realizing that there are thousands of dedicated people, some extremely educated and skilled, at all levels of government, who really do value their jobs of safeguarding the country and doing their own little parts to help secure something like an airplane. This all isn't some "who will think of the children" plot.

        Who gets to decide? Who draws the line? These are all subjective things, and you can't just categorically say that showing ID or submitting to the standard "intensive" search is unacceptable and represents a "slippery slope", only moments away from devolving into tracking devices being implanted in every citizen and being required to show papers when traveling between states. Showing ID at an airport (which is something almost all people did before 9/11 for years anyway) is nowhere near any of the other presumably mandatory examples you cite. Some security changes really are "reasonable" and nothing more.
        • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Monday January 08, 2007 @09:12PM (#17517418)
          Who gets to decide? Who draws the line?.

          WE DO. Period. End of statement. That's why we're a Republic and not a fascist state. It's why the Founding Fathers spent so much time working out a highly sophisticated system of checks and balances (since corrupted) to keep said government under control of the citizenry, and not the other way around.

          Historically, the track record of virtually every government on this goddamned planet has not been good when it comes to civil liberties and extension of police powers, ours included. That being the case, whenever some two-bit politician or other government mouthpiece says, "we need power X", a smart citizenry pushes back hard, fights tooth and nail, and makes them justify, in excruciating detail, why that power is needed, why another long-standing right must be taken. In some instances they're right, they do need what they're asking for ... but in the vast majority of cases they do not. They just want it, which is not the same thing.

          In any event, just rolling over and accepting the verbiage being spewn forth by our current crop of ruling weasels is a huge mistake. They aren't our rulers! They are public servants, and as such are beholden to us and we have every right to make them explain themselves. Period. And may I point out that the TSA has not only been unwilling to explain itself (to anyone) but has repeatedly lied to Congress! These are not the people you want a. in charge of security at any level and b. deciding who can or cannot fly, because they have already clearly demonstrated that they cannot be trusted!

          For some time now our elected (and, more importantly, unelected) officials have been arrogating powers to themselves without any authorization from We the People. That's a problem. That's bad. It's bloody dangerous. So, no matter how you may feel about the issue of airport security (speaking of unelected officials), the undeniable truth is the the United States Federal Government is way more powerful than it needs to be to perform its Constitutionally-limited functions.

          The problem is that you are exhibiting one-dimensional, short-term thinking, looking at the current issues with civil liberties and individual rights as being an artifact of 9/11. They're not, they're systemic. Yes, I agree, the events of 9/11 did provide the government a rationale for a massive assumption of new police powers, but this has been going on for a long, long time. It has been happening too gradually for most of us to notice, but the stench of incrementalism is all around us.

          There have been times when civil liberties were curtailed for a time, but were then restored. The FBI under Hoover reached the point where Congress had to rein it in and enforce some severe restrictions. Some rights were temporarily suspended during World War II, and again were restored. That was then, this is now: times have changed. Our modern Congress not only willing passed the ill-named Patriot Act, but when it came time to activate the sunset clause on some of its worst provisions refused to do so. I have no confidence that any rights taken in the name of counter-terrorism or "saving the children" or any other overblown cause will be returned to us. Not now, not ever.
      • Isn't the slippery slope argument a logical fallacy in some cases?
      • by udderly (890305) *
        for how much longer? How soon before being required to show ID when crossing a State Line? How soon before being required to show ID when checking into Hotels/Motels? How soon before being required to check in with the local police station when you intend to stay somewhere more than a few hours? How soon before having to get written permission before you can travel more than so many miles from your nominated place of residence?

        Slippery slope people... they'll nibble away at your "freedom" by adding littl
    • First of all, his primary question is: Do citizens currently need to show ID in order to travel in their own country?

      The answer is a resounding "no". He is free to travel by foot, bike, motorcycle, car, boat, or other device himself while not violating applicable pedestrian or traffic laws, or by bus or train, entirely anonymously.

      That's true, mostly only for the rich. Pedestrian travel is not a feasible option for anything like the common case. Motorcycle, car and boat all require a bunch of identificati

    • by Qzukk (229616)
      And didn't some call for the federalization of airport security?

      And it turned out that that idea sucked. Let's have the airlines responsible for their own security, and then tell them that if they have a plane fall out of the sky, the taxpayers aren't going to bail them out. The security theater will give its last performance that very same day.

      they're not "laws". That's why they're called security "directives"

      Personally, I think this is just word games, whether it's US Code, Building Code, or "If the per
    • by crush (19364) on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:19PM (#17512144)
      First of all, his primary question is: Do citizens currently need to show ID in order to travel in their own country? The answer is a resounding "no". He is free to travel by foot, bike, motorcycle, car, boat, or other device himself while not violating applicable pedestrian or traffic laws, or by bus or train, entirely anonymously.

      Actually you're wrong. When you travel in a car you are very easily trackable. The British perfected the art of tracking suspected Republican terrorists in Northern Ireland by recognition of license plate numbers on cars. When travelling on Amtrak I have been asked for photo ID for tickets which were pre-booked and paid for with a credit-card in advance. It is now illegal in many jurisdictions (e.g. NYC) to have your face covered in certain situations. All of these remove the ability to travel anonymously.

      Further, in his quest to "expose" this situation, he found at one of the largest airports in the country, San Francisco International Airport, that he WAS indeed allowed to fly without ID (if he submitted to a search).

      And similarly, if you want to get free money from a bank you can do so providing you serve a jail sentence afterwards ;) Being searched is unpleasant, intrusive and effectively a punishment deterring anyone normal from not taking the easy route and trading their ID-less anonymity for an escape from close body contact with security personnel.

      Claims variously made by privacy advocates assert that showing ID is worthless; that the September 11 hijackers all had valid, government issued photo ID. Sure they did. But some form of identification, fake or not, gives authorities a place to start in an investigation, rather than nothing at all.

      The claim is that ID is worthless in preventing terrorist attacks and that the only possible excuse for massive infringements on our liberties is the avoidance of the greater infringement of terrorist nutbags taking away our lives.

      Yes, all the 9/11 hijackers had valid IDs. So what? The ID requirement doesn't pretend to "prevent" issues; it's simply a place to start for investigators AFTER an incident,

      God, who gives a shit? Despite all the 9-11 conspiracy morons it was clear and is very clear who did what because THEY WANTED US TO KNOW. Terrorists don't make a habit of not telling you excatly what it is they want and who they are. The flight rules are intrusive crap that no one puts up with except for the reason that they think it's going to protect them. And most of them fail, and can only fail to do that. They are a closing of the open society and victory for terrorists.

      • by mungtor (306258)

        Actually you're wrong. When you travel in a car you are very easily trackable. The British perfected the art of tracking suspected Republican terrorists in Northern Ireland by recognition of license plate numbers on cars. When travelling on Amtrak I have been asked for photo ID for tickets which were pre-booked and paid for with a credit-card in advance. It is now illegal in many jurisdictions (e.g. NYC) to have your face covered in certain situations. All of these remove the ability to travel anonymously.

      • >They are a closing of the open society and
        >victory for terrorists.

        This claim has always puzzled me.

        Not that terrorists are all that articulate about
        their goals or anything, but when did they say they
        wanted to strengthen our existing government's security
        services and annoy us while flying (oh noes!), while
        leaving our hated strip clubs and foreign occupations
        and breweries intact?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SEAL (88488)
      I'm glad he's asking these questions, but I wish he'd be less sensationalistic and tinfoil-hat about it

      I wish he'd shut down his open SMTP relay but it's still a free country, so far.
    • by codegen (103601)
      or by bus or train, entirely anonymously

      Acutally, you cannot travel by amtrak anonymously. You must show ID with your ticket to board the train. Any most interstate bus travel also requires you to show ID.

    • by AndersOSU (873247) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:38PM (#17513392)
      I actually have experienced how easy it is to fly without ID. Not on purpose, but as a result of poor planning. My girlfriend and I were planning a flight from BWI (Baltimore,) which is a bit over an hour from my apartment, to CLE (Cleveland.) When we arrived at the airport she realized that she didn't have her ID with her. At the time I knew about this case and said we should see if we can get on the plane, rather than driving back to pick up ID and miss the plane for sure.

      Unsurprisingly, it didn't work out. Somewhat surprisingly the problem wasn't with TSA, it was with Continental. Basically since I purchased the tickets originally and we didn't have any checked luggage I checked in at one of the kiosks, and got both of our tickets. We went to security, and I asked a very nice TSA supervisor if my girlfriend could pass through security as a "selectee" without showing ID, he said she could, but that the airline would have to reissue the ticket for her to show up as a selectee (still not sure why that is though), the supervisor even walked us back to the Continental ticket counter and explained the situation. The lady working the counter was an idiot. Now, I know that people working with customers have shitty jobs and constantly have to deal with irate people, believe me when I say we were being as polite and reasonable as possible. The lady was an idiot. When she eventually understood what we needed done, and after the TSA guy explained about six times that it was possible she decided she needed a supervisor. A supervisor was unfortunately unavailable - for 45 minutes... By the time it looked like we might be getting things sorted out the flight had left (and on time to boot.)

      It was important that my girlfriend get to CLE, so she ended up buying a last minute one way ticket from Southwest (I think) for some exorbitant amount of money. She told them up front she didn't have ID on her and there were no problems what so ever, aside to having to submit to the reasonable pat-down search. Getting Continental to leave the return leg of her itinerary open was also an experience, I had to convince the same idiot woman at continental that whether or not my girlfriend has ID in three days and half way across the country wasn't really her problem, and that I had already paid for the return trip, and that it must be possible to fly after all without ID since she was through security while we were talking.

      Anyhow, when she did end up returning (on continental) the people and the CLE ticket counter knew what to do, and once again she got on a plane only having to submit to the pat-down search.

      I wrote Continental and (eventually) got a call back from someone in corporate relations or something, and talked the woman into issuing me a $200 credit. It didn't cover my costs, but in the end it was partially our fault for not being prepared, and for arriving a bit too close to departure time for comfort.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192)
      You can fly without ID.

      It was never really about flying without ID. The issue is being allowed to see the rules by which you're governed. You aren't free to exercise your rights when you don't know what they are. Imagine this exchange:

      Government: You're under arrest.
      You: For what?
      Government: You broke the law.
      You: Which law?
      Government: I can't tell you, it's secret.

      How do you defend yourself against that? And don't give me that bullshit about "directives" not being laws. A rule enforced by a government

  • national security (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MyNymWasTaken (879908) on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:50PM (#17511688)
    "So sorry. We can't show you that piece of legislation. It's a matter of national security."
    • by larien (5608)
      To me, it's like playing cards against someone who won't tell you what the rules are, only that you have to draw 2 cards, discard 1 and oh, you've lost, better luck next time without telling you why.
    • Re:national security (Score:5, Informative)

      by daveschroeder (516195) * on Monday January 08, 2007 @02:55PM (#17511758)
      So sorry. We can't show you that piece of legislation. It's a matter of national security.

      That's because there is no "legislation" that says you must show ID. The legislation, in effect, is "the TSA can set guidelines for security in airports." The TSA, in turn, has security directives, some of which are secret because they pertain to security procedures and processes which they don't want people who would intend to circumvent them knowing about. Further, it's already been determined several times over the course of this that you can fly without ID [slashdot.org] if you submit to the standard "intensive" search that anyone pulled out of line gets. I fully realize some people will still think that's unacceptable, but the point is that you can fly without ID with the standard "intensive" search.
  • Moo (Score:4, Funny)

    by Chacham (981) on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:00PM (#17511838) Homepage Journal
    They should allow him, and him alone, to fly without ID.

    He'll just have to prove that he is him, so that they know that he is the one that doesn't need id.
    • by udderly (890305) *
      Thanks a load (he says after cleaning Diet Code Red Mountain Dew off of his keyboard).

      You should have used the "<humor>" and "</humor>" tags.
  • by AdmNaismith (937672) on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:03PM (#17511890)
    Private companies are allowed to d*ck the public around like this all they want. I go into office buildings all over Los Angeles for my job, and none of them will let you in without at least looking at a Driver's License. Sometimes they hold it (unsecurely) if you are from an outside delivery or repair service. I asked LAPD and they said there is nothing to prevent private companies from doing this and they, as law enforcement, will do nothing to intercede. In the end, there is no law about this either way, but you can be prevented from access to private property (and an airplane likely qualifies) if the owner wants to see or hold your ID.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Tuidjy (321055)

      I've been asked to leave my driving license as security for using a pool table. It reminded me that in Bulgaria, when I was growing up, leaving one's passport as security was an offense punishable by jail for both the owner of the passport and the one holding it.

      As far as I am concerned, this is a convenience. Most people would prefer leaving their license rather than a cash deposit. I hate leaving my license, so I always offer to leave cash. The only time it has not worked is when I tried to rent a pow

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jrockway (229604)
      Hi. The Department of Homeland Security is the government, not a private company. If an airline wants to see my ID, that's great. I can fly on his competitor instead.
      • While the TSA is a government agency - last I checked Delta, Continental, AirTran, et al were private companies.
  • As Schneier Says.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by John Harrison (223649) <johnharrison@gma ... minus physicist> on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:05PM (#17511920) Homepage Journal
    The airlines love this "security measure" because it solves a business problem for them. Prior to this it was common to be able to buy tickets for cheap on the secondary market. Now that market does not exist.
    • Prior to this it was common to be able to buy tickets for cheap on the secondary market.

      As a matter of fact airlines started using ID checks years prior to 9/11 in order to prevent people flying on cheap tickets purchased by others. It's asinine that this is now being called a "security measure" when it started out as a way for corporations to maximize profits. And now the government has ruled that these corporate rules can stand as basis for vague laws tracking behavior.

      Security theater indeed.
  • by stankulp (69949) on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:07PM (#17511966) Homepage
    IS there such a thing as a non-final conclusion?
  • Keep in mind... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by suman28 (558822) <suman28NO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:13PM (#17512066)
    For all those who keep asking the question, "What is wrong with having to show an ID?", you need to keep in mind that once the government starts saying we cannot show you the law because it is national security and all that, they can also say, you are subject to "intensive search" at every 500 ft (for example) for not showing an ID or any other number of rules like that....So, where does it end?
    • Where does it end? At things that are clearly unacceptable.

      The problem is that the threshold of freedom vs security in a society based on rule of law is different for everyone. I have no problem at all with showing ID to fly. I might have problems with something else, and so might many other people.

      So where does it end? At things that are clearly unacceptable to the majority of people. Good thing we live in a majority-representative democracy.

      Just because you have to show an ID to fly (or submit to the stan
  • by demo9orgon (156675) on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:15PM (#17512084) Homepage
    This case was a challenge to the government to disclose secret laws.
    Of course it's not in the interest of any government to disclose secret laws.
    Any government. Any secret law.

    With secret laws, and non-disclosure/denial of legal representation, the goal is to foster and achieve an environment of terror for the citizenry.

    The best system is one that works randomly (or in the least fosters that impression) in the perception of the subjects.

    Every Government is a "Skinner Box" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skinner_box), where the rats behave the way they're supposed to more often with a minimal amount of enforcement and other controls.

    The Democracy "Skinner box" is just as rotten as every other form of government "Skinner box". They're all assembled with the same corrupt intentions.

    Cheers.
    • you contradict yourself somewhat. corruption is the behaviour that arises naturally from the system. it isn't really an intent in and of itself.
  • by twifosp (532320) on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:35PM (#17512368)
    This lawsuit is just plain stupid. Asking for IDs for boarding a flight is not the same as asking for identification papers ala Soviet Russia. It's a business policy, plain and simple. Does Best Buy have to have legislation to ask for your ID when you pay by credit card? No. Do they? Yes. Why? Business policies. Do stores have to have national laws enacted when they enforce their return policies? No. Do they? Yes. Why? Business policies.

    Airlines are commercial enterprises and they can set whatever policies they want. Yes I know the analogy isn't perfect because the Airline industry is federally regulated, but it's still the same thing. It's a business policy to present valid ID before boarding a pressurized aluminum tube carrying a ton of highly volatile fuel, and that's that.

    No rights are being violated because there are no expressed rights to purchase fare on an airplane. That's a privilege and a luxury. Travel on foot next time if you're so worried about your papers.

    Note: It is my opinion that presenting IDs actually makes security worse. If having a valid ID automatically clears the bearer into a lower level of suspicion the system is already broken. "... He was white AND had a drivers license. How were we supposed to know he was a terrorist!"

    • Does Best Buy have to have legislation to ask for your ID when you pay by credit card? No. Do they? Yes. Why? Business policies.

      Bad example - almost all merchant credit-card contracts prevent the merchant from requiring ID to make a purchase. The primary reason is that the credit-card companies want their credit cards to be as easy to use as cash and cash does not require an ID. You can argue all you want that it sucks for the merchant, but as you said -- business policies.

      PS - there is a loophole, mercha
    • by hellfire (86129)
      You have every right to refuse to provide a phone number or identification at best buy. That's current consumer law and if Best Buy fails to sell you something because you refuse to provide that information, you can sue.

      Identification should only be used in instances of legally regulated goods and services. For example, if I buy a TV with cash, what the hell is it Best Buy's business what your phone number is? None! You have a legal sale right there. Now, guns for example, those are another story. Tho
    • Asking for IDs for boarding a flight is not the same as asking for identification papers ala Soviet Russia. It's a business policy, plain and simple.
      Yeah, private oppression is SO much better than the public-sector kind. That's why we fought the Commies for all those years.

  • by stubear (130454) on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:35PM (#17512374)
    ...I hate the stupid luggage bullshit you have to go through. TSA puts your luggage through x-ray machines yet they feel the necessity to have the ability to go through it by hand. I took a three week trip all over China a little over a year ago and had no trouble with the locks on my suitcases on the numerous flights I took. When I got back in the States nearly all my locks mysteriously disappeared despite the fact that they were TSA approved locks. I don't trust TSA wage slaves with my personal belongings and I trust baggage handlers even less yet I'm now forced to risk loss of personal property on the whims of a high school drop out.
  • by oohshiny (998054) on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:48PM (#17512588)
    Air travel is a private business. Now, it might be possible to create a law that would require them to let you fly without identification, but by default, a private business should be able to make showing identification part of the process of boarding a plane.
  • Identity is no proof of intent.
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Monday January 08, 2007 @03:54PM (#17512684)
    Note that the Supreme Court denied the petition for a writ of certiorari - fancy talk for "they decided not to hear the case". Their rules state that if any four (out of nine) justices vote in favor of granting the writ, the court will hear the case.

    What this means is that the court decided by a vote of at least 6-3 not to hear the case. In many cases, though, this has less to do with the factual merits of the case than it does the fact that there is no conflict among lower federal courts on the issue.

  • by auroran (10711) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:02PM (#17512814)
    I find it interesting how several people have commented, and continue to do so, that flying is their right. Believe it or not you do NOT have a right to ride from point A to point B in an aircraft.
    The aircraft is private property run by a private company, and as such can refuse business to any individual they wish for any reason they wish.

    It's similar to someone claiming that they have the right to eat in a restaurant when they're causing a ruckus. You don't have the right to eat there, you're always welcome to go home and cook.

    If you have a problem w/ the service then you are allowed to file a complaint. There's regulations & legislations regarding minimum standards of service for the safety of the general public.

    Want to drive a car w/o ID? you're more than welcome to make the attempt. However driving a motor vehicle is not a right and there's rather clear legislation that states that your license must be shown on the request of a peace officer.
  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Monday January 08, 2007 @04:07PM (#17512880)
    I know that /. is the place to turn to for legal advice, so I'll shoot.

    Can someone sign a contract which says that the signatory party forfeits the right of knowing the terms which under some terms of another contract applies to him? Even if the government wants you to sign?

    Because, as far as I see, this is the Gilmore case about. I know that traveling by air is generally not thought of as a contract, but it is one, called providing a service. Normally, when you want to use a private company's service, you get to know the terms. "You get this phone now for free, but only if you sign up for 2 years with our company" or "buy two and save 30%!". The fact is, Gilmore only wanted to know the terms: "so I'm only allowed to fly if I show my id? Then point me to the AUP" - paraphrased. Then the private company sends Gilmore to hell and throws him out of the building.

    They are entirely within their rights to do that, they are a private business after all under no obligation to serve a customer or tell him anything, but as every private company knows, they make money from customers, so they don't generally do this.

    The problem is that the private company didn't say this, but that they were following secret rules issued by the Transportation Security Administration, which is a government entity. The problem with this is, that when a private company makes rules, its called terms of employment, company policy or such, but when the goverment makes rules, it's called law or regulation. There is a tricky thing with laws, that ignorance of them does not nullify their force. It works the other way around though too: it is not a law which you can't know. A regulation is basically the same, it doesn't apply to you when you can't know about it. A job at a company works the same way, you get to know the terms of employment and for example they can't fire you for arbitary made up reasons, because that would be a breach of contract if the terms of employment doesn't include that. As far as I know, no private company or government has the power to add arbritary sections to a contract.

    So, if a private company does things, you can just never use them again. When the government makes rules, you cannot escape them, you are bound by them - only if you know about them.

    I'd add that it doesn't matter what the given regulation is. The regulation could have been that you have to look into a camera or raise your left arm or anything. It doesn't matter because it has nothing to do with the case. The case is about whether you need to comply with rules, regulations, laws, call them whatever to wish, whose existence is only indicated by taking someone's word for it and reading the actually law/regulation is forbidden. I believe that is in violation of your country's constitution.

    I think there is a loophole which might be an argument to get around my chain of reasoning. "But this regulation is only a routing order, it only tells the airline employee, who clearly can know about the regulation, what to do with the guy. If he doesn't have an ID, the employee directs the passenger towards the longer security check". The problem with that argument is that then the passenger shouldn't even know about this internal requirement, instead of a public notice that the government mandates the ID check and that you can't fly without it. Secondly, which is more serious, if the passanger asks about the different treatment and the rationale behind it, the answer that it is an internal governmental regulation that forces the employee to perform a more thorough security check is only grounds for just that, the employee performing a more thorough check, not grounds for denying the passenger a chance to fly altogether, because that would be the government making a secret regulation which a passenger would need to adhere to in order to fly. If the government wants ID checks, fine. Make a law or public regulation about it. Until then, the government restricts their citizens illegally from performing the legal activity of flight by air, which public usage conditions they satisfied.

    So I'll ask once again. Do you think that the government is free to break the rules layed down by the constitution or law?
  • It's Pretty Simple (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nitack (1046362)
    Airlines are privately held companies. They are heavily regulated by the government due to the nature of airplanes and the damage they can do. Regardless, they are a private industry. As a private industry they are in the business of making money (or at least trying).

    By requiring ID they are forcing final sales of airline tickets. If tickets were transferable or resalable the airlines would lose money because of the ability to buy tickets second hand.

    There does not have to be a law requiring ID's for fl
  • by rudy_wayne (414635) on Monday January 08, 2007 @05:17PM (#17514108)
    Through all the discussions of terrorists, guns and whether or not showing ID accomplishes anything, everyone has missed the most important issue here.

    Throughout this case, Gilmore has repeatedly said "Show me the law that says ID is required". And the government has refused, on the grounds of "security". This is beyond absurd. Secret laws have no place in a free society.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Monday January 08, 2007 @05:18PM (#17514122)
    I tend to find the thought (or, more typically, the lack of it) behind the majority Slashdot comments on these sorts of threads rather asinine... So here I am returning the favor.

    Lately, living in the U.S. I am more and more often reminded of passages from Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago. This search law that we're not allowed to see reminds me of the list of rights Soviet citizens had under Stalin. Solzhenitsyn explained that, while imprisoned, he had certain rights; he just weren't allowed to find out what those rights were! This made defending oneself against charges like sedition quite impossible.

    In the 5+ years since 2001 we have had internal passports proposed; we're told that only terrorists and criminals would oppose greatly increasing police and spy agency powers; and we have secret laws we life-long citizens are not allowed to see. I am old enough to remember when people used exactly those points to mock the Soviet Union. I find it painfully ironic, and really wonder what path we think we're on.

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