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Verified Identity Pass Shuts Down "Clear" Operations 171

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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  • by BenEnglishAtHome ( 449670 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @08:59AM (#28437599)

    This is too bad for a few folks. One of the training companies used extensively by my employer is headquartered in Florida. All of their staff signed up for Clear and said it was either unavailable or pretty much worthless everywhere EXCEPT Orlando. There, seasoned travelers frequently found themselves in line behind hundreds of Disney-vacationing families with little kids, families unused to flying and doing everything wrong while still trying to herd the ankle-biters. It was supposedly a nightmare. For that airport and that airport alone, those guys thought Clear was a godsend.

    Everywhere else? Their attitude was...meh.

  • by mdmkolbe ( 944892 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @09:11AM (#28437739)

    Doesn't Orlando have self-select back diamond [tsa.gov] lanes? Wouldn't that solve the problem of skipping past the many families that your company was solving using Clear?

  • by sprag ( 38460 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @09:18AM (#28437831)

    well, why were you carrying a giant razor blade?

  • Clear SUCKED (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Jahf ( 21968 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @09:47AM (#28438117) Journal

    I am so glad I decided not to enroll. I am a very regular traveler through the Denver airport and Clear had a very visible presence at the security gates. I was tempted at first but decided against it for 2 reasons:

    1) Privacy: When I emailed Clear they stated that they did not share data with the government but they couldn't guarantee they -wouldn't- share data in the future. Clear takes -both- fingerprints and retinal prints. I asked if I could just give the retinal and they said no. While I haven't done anything that would have gotten me in hot water if the government got my finger prints ... well ... I reserve the right to keep them to myself, thank you very much.

    2) Speed: Clear was supposed to be a "breeze through security" service. And yet all the stuff they do in the line (scan you for identity, put you through a "puff & sniff" detector) seemed to make people go through Clear -slower- than the normal lines over half of the time. The only time Clear was faster when I watched was during very high holiday traffic times ... and then only when there weren't many people in the Clear line.

    Thanks but no thanks. Instead of getting us to pay to make a few people go through faster why not improve the TSA processes in the "real" security lines so that we don't have to suffer through things like:

    * Idiots who STILL don't know how to remove their jewelry/shoes/laptops (easily accomplished by a -free- registration card that you can apply for after having passed through security at least once and using that completely wasted "1st class" security line for us business travelers)

    * TSA jerks who literally go on break while being the baggage scanner. 25% of the time or -more- I am in a line where the scanner just stops. NO they aren't being diligent by double-checking a bag they are just sitting there. The last time a supervisor came over and started chatting up the bag scanner ... positioning themself between the growing line of travelers and the scanner so they couldn't see us ... even looking back, seeing the line growing, and continuing to chat the with the bag scanner attendant. Based on the amount of laughter and hand motions it was all just fun ... for them. Meanwhile there were other people standing nearby who could have helped.

    And Clear wouldn't have helped in that situation. Why? Because it was late in the evening on a Sunday and Clear had closed up.

    Clear was an attempt to make money off the fact that the TSA has no damned concept of speed nor efficiency. That's the wrong way to do it.

    Good riddance!

  • by AlecC ( 512609 ) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @10:18AM (#28438479)

    Once you have checked your baggage, they more-or-less have to wait for you. The are not allowed to fly baggage without passenger, because that would be an easy way to get a bomb on board without risking yourself. So if a passenger disappears, they have to unload all the baggage and scan through to find the bags of the disappeared passenger by scanning the tags. Extremely laborious - probably take over an hour for a large plane, unless they are lucky. Which is why they get so energetic paging missing passengers over the PA, and have staff looking for drunks passed out in the toilets.

  • by RoverDaddy ( 869116 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @11:00AM (#28439083) Homepage
    Hear hear! Would mod you insightful but I'd rather comment this time. It's sad but true, that the 'recovery' we're looking for basically depends on the people who still have lots of money convincing the masses to go ahead and resume wasting theirs on things they really don't need at all. I'd almost rather see the recession continue indefinitely if it continues improving the saving rate of Americans or stops them from believing they need all the made-in-China crap that the marketing folks want them to buy.
  • by ECCN ( 1137677 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @11:02AM (#28439123)
    There are two significant changes rolled out by TSA that are likely the cause of CLEAR to finally give up. (They have been struggling financially since inception, and had a very narrow adoption rate)... Here in Tampa, FL the TSA rolled out a new method of security line queues for travelers that segments travelers into three different classifications: * The first being an "Expert Traveler", highly familiar with TSA procedures and traveling light - they use a lane marked with a black diamond, ideally moving through security much quicker than the 'masses'; * The second being a "Casual Traveler", familiar with TSA procedures and has multiple carry-ons - they use a lane marked with a blue square; * The third category is "Family/Medical Liquids", travelers with small children, strollers, wheelchairs, medical liquids in excess of 3oz, large groups, anyone needing assitance and new flyers - they use a lane marked with green circle. Having flown out of Tampa several times sinces these have been implemented, I can say first hand they work pretty well as intended. The new "Black Diamond" lane is every bit as quick and effective as a CLEARPass lane. I have inquired and been informed that TSA is in the process of rolling this new security line queing process to most airports in the US. The second major change implemented by TSA that was likely the death knell for CLEAR is the new identification rule that went into effect on June 15th, and will beginincreased phase-in over the next 6 months. TSA now requires all tickets to be reserved/purchased in the EXACT full name that is on your government issued ID. For example, if your full legal name on your DL/Passport is Jonathan Quincy Public, but you are known by and go by Jon Public & in the past you bought your ticket for 'Jon Public', that is no longer acceptable, your ticket will now need to be issued to 'Jonathan Quincy Public'. In addition to your full legal name, when reserving/purchasing tickets you are also required to provide your date of birth and gender, two things that have never before been required. The change regarding names, gender & age are being 'rolled out' over the next 6 months. Meaning they are not required ATM, but requested & after the 6 month window they will be REQUIRED to purchase a ticket and travel through a TSA checkpoint. That last change is due to TSA taking over the process of name screening against the NO-FLY LIST during the ticket purchase/reservation stage. They are no longer allowing the airlines to be in charge of that process. That was the only real advantage CLEAR offered.... prescreened against the NO-FLY List. They had very limited effective benefits for the mass market because they were not able to get their screening locations across a wide enough array of airports and still required the same basic TSA level creening.
  • by pongo000 ( 97357 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @11:42AM (#28439779)

    [Bruce] Schneier took from his bag a 12-ounce container labeled "saline solution."

    "It's allowed," he said. Medical supplies, such as saline solution for contact-lens cleaning, don't fall under the TSA's three-ounce rule.

    "What's allowed?" I asked. "Saline solution, or bottles labeled saline solution?"

    "Bottles labeled saline solution. They won't check what's in it, trust me."

    They did not check. As we gathered our belongings, Schneier held up the bottle and said to the nearest security officer, "This is okay, right?" "Yep," the officer said. "Just have to put it in the tray."

    "Maybe if you lit it on fire, he'd pay attention," I said, risking arrest for making a joke at airport security. (Later, Schneier would carry two bottles labeled saline solution--24 ounces in total--through security. An officer asked him why he needed two bottles. "Two eyes," he said. He was allowed to keep the bottles.)

    Well, I thought it was funny.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200811/airport-security/2 [theatlantic.com]

  • Re:Security Theater (Score:3, Interesting)

    by curunir ( 98273 ) * on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @02:50PM (#28442929) Homepage Journal

    I thought the same thing until an international flight a couple of years ago. I was flying home from Japan and knew the flight would be long and I always get dehydrated when flying, so I brought 4 empty bottles with me. This worked fine at Narita and I was able to fill one of them up for the short first leg of my flight. And it even looked like it would work at the Seoul airport since I was able to fill up all 4 once I was beyond the security checkpoint.

    But then it came time to board the airplane and there was yet another checkpoint for all flights to the US where they took all 4 of my bottles. The checkpoint was literally at the gate just before boarding the airplane, so there was no opportunity to fill the bottles beyond the checkpoint. And, of course, the flight attendant said they didn't have enough water on board to give me my own bottle.

    So yes, there are many times where you can fill up your bottle beyond the security checkpoints. But no, it's not always possible and there are instances where people have a legitimate gripe about the availability of water.

    P.S. As someone who does what you say for most flights, you can avoid the pressure issue by filling your bottle to the brim with water since the volume of water doesn't really change when the pressure changes. It's only when there's air in the bottle that you have to worry about pressure changes.

  • Re:Security Theater (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Moridin42 ( 219670 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @02:53PM (#28442965)

    I don't know what the japanese airports have, but all I had to do was drop my soft drink onto a scanner and pick it up a couple seconds later. I assume it was some sort of chemical sniffer. Although it could certainly just been a bit of security theatre. I don't know. Slightly difficult to ask, too, when one doesn't speak the language.

    Walk through the security check point enjoying my drink, not being hassled, not throwing away a perfectly fine refreshment, not having to take my shoes off to be scanned. And the lines at Haneda for security/check-in.. far better than the ridiculous times at Newark.

  • by Matheus ( 586080 ) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @11:47PM (#28448829) Homepage

    I find in my travels that a lot of business travelers consider themselves experts just because they fly a lot. These are the same people who need 6 bins because they have to practically strip naked to get through the metal detector and haven't checked a bag since 1987. If it takes you any more than 30 seconds to a minute to "prep" for the check once you are in everyone's way you are doing it wrong.

    One of the best features of being Elite... you only have to wait for a short line of idiots, not the really long line of idiots.

"Turn on, tune up, rock out." -- Billy Gibbons