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Privacy Transportation United States Technology

Verified Identity Pass Shuts Down "Clear" Operations 171

Posted by timothy
from the will-you-also-clear-the-database dept.
torrentami writes that Verified Identity Pass, operator of the "Clear" program, which allowed pre-screened passengers faster access to US airport gates, "sent out emails to its subscribers today informing them that as of 11 p.m. PST they will cease operations. Clear was a pioneer in speeding customers through security at airports and had planned on expanding to large events. The service, where it was available, offered a first class security experience for travelers willing to fork over $200 a year and their biometrics. Customers are now left holding their Flyclear cards with encrypted biometrics. The question now becomes, what happens to all that information? This is not the first time Clear has been in the news. A laptop containing customer records was reportedly missing from the San Francisco International airport recently but then turned up shortly thereafter. Another casualty of the recession's downturn in business travel."
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Verified Identity Pass Shuts Down "Clear" Operations

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  • Heathrow T5 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pzs (857406) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @09:05AM (#28437655)

    They still have something similar at the new BA Heathrow terminal. If you're a business or 1st class passenger you get your own special lane in the security checks where (presumably - I'm just an economy pleb) the line moves faster (fewer unwashed masses) and maybe the staff are less rude to you. I guess it's just another part of the "aspirational" nature of flying, where you wish you could afford to fly business because it might be a slightly less depressing and dehumanising experience.

    The cynic in me says that this is a natural and welcome part of security theatre [theatlantic.com]. Like forcing everybody to rebuy their bottled water every time they fly, this practice seems to have a lot more to do with making companies associated with flight security a pile of money than it does making anybody safe.

  • by VampireByte (447578) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @09:15AM (#28437783) Homepage

    Another casualty of the recession's downturn in business travel

    When this economy turns around, I hope some sanity remains regarding what business travel is necessary vs. wasteful. So much of the time these business meetings could have been conducted by phone or over the internet.

  • Re:Heathrow T5 (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @09:17AM (#28437803)

    Not exactly a new thing on this side of the Atlantic, there have been First Class security lines in big US airports for most of this decade (if not longer).

  • by Omniscient Lurker (1504701) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @09:18AM (#28437821)

    "If it's legally possible"

    What do they care about legalities, they're going out of business, there'll be no one left to sue.

  • Never signed up (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ToAllPointsWest (801684) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @09:18AM (#28437829)
    Right now I'm so glad I never signed on for that BS.
  • by tacokill (531275) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @09:26AM (#28437911)
    I looked at the Clear Pass program. It's a waste of money as far as I can tell. Basically, as I understand it, you get to pay $200/yr for....wait for it.....a special line where you can go through the exact same security procedures as the other non clear pass lines.

    It begs the question: why bother? Which is why I am sure they are having trouble attracting customers.

    I travel enough that an expedited security procedure would be helpful. However I can't see *any* value in this program. Apparently, I am not alone.
  • Good riddance (Score:3, Insightful)

    by surmak (1238244) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @09:42AM (#28438067)

    I am very glad to see this go. I have always thought that the "trusted" traveler program is unfair and dangerous to everyone's civil liberties. Those who travel frequently should have the go through the same hassle as everyone else, and so will be more likely to complain and get the system fixed for all of us. If frequent traveler are segregated into their own first class lane, they have less incentive to work to change the system, and the rest of the traveling public do not fly enough to care. This is the same reason that racial profiling of any sort is wrong. If society decides that law enforcement needs to inconvenience people, then all people, especially those with the power to effect the decision should have to pay the price, and not just a relatively powerless minority.

    Airport security, as a whole, is pretty much worthless, and seems only to serve the purpose of getting people used to law enforcement checkpoints ("papers, please") The one post 9/11/01 change that did matter was the reinforcing of the cockpit doors. Everything else the TSA (or private screeners, before the establishment of the TSA) did, from the banning of drinking water, to the confiscation of Leatherman tools has not done anything to make anyones flights any safer.

  • by EsJay (879629) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @09:48AM (#28438123)
    Priority lines at the airport bug me. First class passengers are not paying me or the airport, the airline is collecting the cash. So why should they get special treatment and make the wait worse for the rest of us? Maybe I should set up a toll booth on my street. Or go to the DMV and set up velvet ropes to one station, and sell the "right" to that quicker line for $50/head.
  • by MoeDrippins (769977) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @10:01AM (#28438273)

    Unfortunately, "when this economy turns around" is precisely when what is wasteful vs. not will CEASE to be recognized.

  • by massysett (910130) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @10:10AM (#28438367) Homepage

    I looked at the Clear Pass program. It's a waste of money as far as I can tell. Basically, as I understand it, you get to pay $200/yr for....wait for it.....a special line where you can go through the exact same security procedures as the other non clear pass lines.

    Especially when most of the people who would be interested in Clear and who would pony up $200 for it are already flying first class, business class, or have some sort of "elite" frequent flyer status...meaning that they can already go to the special lane that jumps them to the front of the security line. When I first heard of Clear, I thought it would qualify you for a reduced amount of screening (maybe keep your shoes on?) When I heard that you get the same screening as everybody else, I knew there was no way it would last long because it's completely pointless.

  • by metlin (258108) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @11:10AM (#28439233) Journal

    As a seasoned traveler, I could have told you that Clear wasn't going anywhere. Forget Orlando - New York on Monday mornings or O'Hare in winter make Orlando look like a walk in the park.

    The problem with Clear is that they are not available at more than a couple of gates and terminals at any airport. So, you would end up going to that particular gate or terminal to get through Clear, as opposed to the one you are flying out of. Worse yet is that in some airports, they only have it available to passengers flying a certain airline (e.g. in Cincinnati, you can only go through Clear if you are flying Delta -- most American, US Air and United customers would have to go through good old TSA since the Delta terminal is not connected with any other terminal). Hell, they are not even available at all airports, which sort of defeats the complete purpose for a frequent flier.

    Secondly, as a frequent flier, I simply go to the priority access lanes. If you've any kind of airline status, or if you're flying business/first, you get to go through a much shorter line, and do not have to stand behind muggles and grandma with her 500oz hair shampoo. These lines are shorter, and move much faster because seasoned and frequent fliers pack as little as they have to. For example, I can pretty much pack all that I need for a week in a laptop bag, including workout clothes and gym gear, books, emergency snacks etc. Throw in a garment bag and you've plenty of space for a vacation for a month. So, frequent flier lanes are also much faster because these people don't spend their time arguing with TSA to let them take their hair gel or water bottle through.

    I must also say that I've seen a remarkable difference in TSA attitudes in the past couple of years. That helps, too.

  • Re:Good riddance (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @12:35PM (#28440569)

    If the rules weren't retarded, the inexperienced travelers wouldn't be a problem. The only reason they are surprised by the rules is that they are so patently absurd.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @03:17PM (#28443389) Homepage

    The problem with Clear is that they are not available at more than a couple of gates and terminals at any airport.

    Huh. I'd never heard of them before, and on reading the summary my thought was that the biggest problem with Clear is that they are apparently pioneers in an industry that by all reason and logic should not exist.

  • by techno-vampire (666512) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @05:40PM (#28445845) Homepage
    They didn't seem to get understand.

    Of course not. The people running the gates aren't paid to think, they're paid to follow orders blindly. In fact, I suspect that the TSA gives all applicants an IQ test and only hires those who fail it. Now that I come to think of it, it occurs to me that Vogons would be just perfect for the job.

  • Re:What happens? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by similar_name (1164087) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @08:06PM (#28447503)

    There really should be a hotline or something similar to call to get companies in trouble when they do totally dumbass maneuvers like that.

    Would you have called and had all those machines taken from you as evidence?

panic: kernel trap (ignored)