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TSA Announces Pilot of Trusted Traveler Program 388

Bob the Super Hamste writes "CNN reports that the TSA has announced the pilot of their trusted traveler program. This is the program where an individual gives up additional information to the government and then gets expedited security. The pilot program will only be available to certain frequent fliers on Delta passengers flying out of Atlanta and Detroit, and to American Airlines passengers flying out of Miami and Dallas. Plans are in the work to expand this to other airports and other airlines as well."
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TSA Announces Pilot of Trusted Traveler Program

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  • Implying (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 15, 2011 @12:54PM (#36776796)

    All other travelers presumed guilty.

    • Re:Implying (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jandrese ( 485 ) <> on Friday July 15, 2011 @01:17PM (#36777152) Homepage Journal
      Have you flown anytime in the previous decade? That assumption has been there for a long time already.
    • Divide and conquer (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @01:30PM (#36777390) Homepage Journal

      Yeah, it's a little bit of "divide and conquer" in the works here. 10, 15, perhaps 20% of air travelers get this "trusted" status. The rest of the herd has to tolerate the indignities, and obviously they deserve it. If they were "trustworthy", after all, they would be like "us", cutting in at the head of the line.

      So, with a special class of elites to show off, the TSA will get away with yet greater indignities imposed on the unwashed masses.

      Didn't Orwell work this same thing into his story?

      • by slick7 ( 1703596 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @01:58PM (#36777842)

        Didn't Orwell work this same thing into his story?

        Trust in a government that doesn't trust its own people? Trust in a government that has so many secrets that it can't trust its own people to keep them. Trust in a government that gives more money to its enemies than it does to its own people. Hmmmm....Let me get back to you on that.

  • Lovely (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @12:54PM (#36776800) Homepage Journal

    This is a perfect solution that balances the public wish for appearance of freedom, with the government and corporate wish for the appearance of security.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And raises lots of money for the government too!

    • Re:Lovely (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gearsmithy ( 1869466 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @01:03PM (#36776928)
      Now that's what I call freedumb!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Macrat ( 638047 )

      This is a perfect solution that balances the public wish for appearance of freedom

      Only for the rich.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Nay, for the rich, or for those willing to give up every piece of privacy they have.

  • Bad idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DanTheStone ( 1212500 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @12:55PM (#36776820)
    We all know how this will go. Fewer lines will be allocated to normal lines, pushing people to give up tons of personal information in order to return to the speeds they previously had (as everyone will want the faster lines), instead of the skyrocketing time of the normal lines. It's the carrot approach to getting people to give up all their rights and personal information.
    • Re:Bad idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lust ( 14189 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @12:59PM (#36776874) Homepage

      And there is no guarantee the system will not be revoked in future - personal information cannot suddenly become private again.

    • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @01:45PM (#36777634)
      You are absolutely correct. This is simply more government blackmail in disguise.

      This system would establish a new class of people who are allowed to travel without question while most of the people are left to undergo "screening".

      The system, even as ideally envisioned, is a breeding ground for abuse, because people who give even decently manufactured information to the TSA will get privileged access. Just like RFID passports, it gives the illusion of more security while actually reducing real security, because intelligent criminals will then be trusted without question.

      The TSA needs to be abolished, not allowed to create discriminatory, security-harming policies.
  • by lordDallan ( 685707 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @12:56PM (#36776824)
    Until I am PROVEN GUILTY of not being one. I don't have to "opt in" for what should be my no-questions-asked constitutional rights.
    • Until I am PROVEN GUILTY of not being one. I don't have to "opt in" for what should be my no-questions-asked constitutional rights.

      Haven't flown much recently, then?

      I'm aware you're describing the ideal. No need to educate me on my rights, or erosion thereof. Having traveled internationally recently, I'll add that the TSA's policies are consistent with those of the People's Republic of China. And that should tell you all you need to know.

      • Actually, when I was in China two years ago, they were a lot friendlier than the TSA in a lot of respects. Not saying that the Chinese are a paragon of civil liberties, of course (they're horrible), but when it comes to airport security, they are less onerous than the USA.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 15, 2011 @01:40PM (#36777546)

        I'll add that the TSA's policies are consistent with those of the People's Republic of China.

        That is an unwarranted insult to the Chicoms. As far as airports go, the Chicoms are nowhere near as bad as the TSA. Airport security in China is FAR, FAR more accommodating and FAR FAR more respectful to passengers than the TSA is.

        That is first hand knowledge.

    • Until I am PROVEN GUILTY of not being one. I don't have to "opt in" for what should be my no-questions-asked constitutional rights.

      Now that you've swept away TSA with a two sentence assertion on an internet forum, can we all go directly to the gate at the airport without any security checks?

      • Wow. You totally nailed my intent there!! Good job!!

        Or maybe I was just blowing off some steam in a public forum about an issue that frustrates me. See the difference??
    • Citizen, you are in error and clearly in need of retraining. Air travel is a privilege, not a right. The only way to prevent terrorist attacks is to notify the government, several days in advance, of your intention to travel between different parts of the country; and to submit to physical searches, document checks and property seizures at the various government checkpoints while in transit.
    • by gorzek ( 647352 )

      As Ronald Reagan and similar idiots would likely say: "Trust... but verify."

      (Note: does not actually involve trust.)

    • Unfortunately it isn't you whose rights are being violated because you don't have a constitutionally guaranteed right to fly on Delta's or American's planes. It is they whose rights are being abridged by the government making it mandatory on them to require that their passengers be screened by the TSA. And they aren't likely to sue to defend their rights. What we need is some airline to step up and refuse the TSA and then challenge it all the way up when they get shut down for it.

  • by ThinkWeak ( 958195 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @12:57PM (#36776848)
    Step 1: Create new "elite program" requesting additional privacy invasion
    Step 2: Initially limit ability into "elite program" to create artificial demand
    Step 3: Make it more painful for those not in "elite program" to travel
    Step 4: Create new "platinum elite program" requesting even more privacy information
    Step n: All your base are belong to us

    In all seriousness, this is the slippery slope everyone talks about.
    • Give them free miles for every privacy item they give up and nobody will ever care.

      • by Idbar ( 1034346 )
        The only thing you need to give, is cavity searches to those not in the program. (Probably Step 3b).

        Why would you need to leave travelers happy, when you abuse them even more?
    • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @01:24PM (#36777286)
      The slippery slope was a looooong ways back. Like maybe RICO or the "war" on drugs. After 9/11, Bush and Ashcroft cheerfully pushed us off the cliff into this ever-expanding police state.
  • by Lord Grey ( 463613 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @01:00PM (#36776890)

    When my doorbell rings and the Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons are on the doorstop, I tell them "No, thanks."

    When the TSA offers to restore a small bit of the freedom I used to have anyway, but only after forcing me to give up something else, I say, "No, thanks, you intrusive motherfucking bastards."

    Mom did try to raise a polite child, you know.

  • by gomiam ( 587421 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @01:01PM (#36776900)
    Are trusted travelers to pat themselves down or supposed to do a striptease? :)
  • Terrorists and other ne'er-do-wells begin active surveillance and recruitment of people who have previously gained "trusted traveler" status.

    Translation: go find someone who's already got their "get out of grope" card, and arrange for *them* to carry the Happy Boom Blox.

    • That's a good point. After voluntarily submitting to these types of intrusions, the trusted recruits should have ample body cavity capacity for implanted boom blox, if you know what I mean. Giggidy.
    • Re:In other news (Score:5, Interesting)

      by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @01:55PM (#36777794)
      Except that the measures which actually prevent terrorists from hijacking or bombing airplanes -- bomb sniffing dogs, locked cabin doors, armed agents on planes -- are not going away. This program is just a tactic of getting people to give up what the government wanted all along: personal information. The basic concept is this:
      1. Grope people or force them to enter backscatter machines, giving them a choice between having an uncomfortable government-approved sexual assault or an uncomfortable and possibly dangerous exposure to radiation that results in a nude photograph.
      2. Create a policy that requires TSA agents to "screen" kindergarden aged children and cancer patients, creating bad press about the screening process.
      3. Announce that you are going balance security with the public demand to end the screening process, by allowing travellers who give up their privacy rights by volunteering information to the government to avoid the groping and X-ray process.

      Note that people who opt for the "trusted traveller" program are going to be subject to exactly the same security measures that we had in airports immediately after the 2001 attacks. The only difference is that now the government gets to access personal details that they were prohibited from accessing before. The best way to avoid constitutional restrictions is to get people to voluntarily give up their rights.

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @01:03PM (#36776916) Homepage

    Any terrorist with half a brain trying to plan an attack on an airplane now knows exactly how to do it: Forge an identity or recruit a new terrorist that can meet the Trusted Traveler requirements. Then use the Trusted Traveler identity to bypass the security that might catch your terrorist plot. Bruce Schneier writes a great deal about this: If you create an easier-than-standard path through security constraints, the bad guys, just like the good guys, will take the easier route, every single time.

    • by AJH16 ( 940784 )

      Wrong. You can make a system that is harder to get in to than the effort to get through a single instance. Your error is to not realize that the system is only easier over multiple trips. The background check and other requirements are harder to accomplish. Someone that can get trusted traveler would be unlikely to be recruit-able and would certainly be risky to try and recruit. Forging shouldn't be a possibility as the records should be electronic and include a photo. The effort to get in to the syst

    • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @01:28PM (#36777360) Homepage
      No, any terrorist with half a brain knows to bypass the passenger cabin completely. You know all of those people that service the plane? That have access to all manner of hidden spaces in the plane and the airport? Those people who are given a cursory background check and even more cursory supervision.

      The next terrorist attack will not the the same as the last terrorist attack.
  • by IP_Troll ( 1097511 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @01:03PM (#36776926)
    This is nothing new. They had a program in 2009 called Clear to speed you through screening and it was abruptly shutdown without explanation. []

    It was then started again, but more limited. []

    So... how long will this incarnation last?
    • They had a program in 2009 called Clear to speed you through screening and it was abruptly shutdown without explanation.

      I had heard that the company running the program wasn't making a profit. That, plus the laptop fiasco mentioned by the other poster killed it pretty quickly.

  • All that terrorists will do is bide their time a bit more, and do all the work necessary to get themselves into these trusted traveller programs, and then ultimately spring whatever trap they were planning... possibly many years later.
  • The fastest I ever got through security (well, second fastest after a commuter shuttle flight) was when I forgot my driver's license, was taken to the side, given a quick pat down, and sent through.
    • The regs say "a state issued photo id".

      A buddy of mine uses his concealed carry permit... seems to me that would work great for the trusted traveler program. Most states already have a process for obtaining one (realistic or not), and after fingerprinting and both state and FBI background checks, well... you prolly aren't a terrorist.

  • Doesn't trust open security whole? Who is going to guarantee that a person vetted today will not be compromised tomorrow? On the other hand, considering TSA is mostly theater, this program is probably not much of a concern.
  • Reserving Judgment (Score:3, Interesting)

    by V-similitude ( 2186590 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @01:05PM (#36776954)

    It sounds interesting, but given their history I'm highly skeptical. I could see it improving things, but it all depends on two things.

    a) How much and what information they're actually collecting (they didn't say):

    The amount and nature of the information that will be sought was not disclosed.

    I could easily imagine them requiring absurd amounts of information, such as full disclosure of banking accounts, family background information, etc., etc. Given that I'm sure they won't be trustworthy enough to store it safely, this could be a deal breaker for many (and have disastrous consequences when their database is hacked).

    And b) What exactly this means:

    Security experts have long expressed concern about so-called "clean skins" -- potential terrorists who enroll in "trusted traveler" programs to avoid scrutiny during a terror mission. But the TSA says it will continue to incorporate random and unpredictable security measures to address such concerns.

    Random and unpredictable security measures even for "trusted travelers" sounds like it could make it not worth the effort. Furthermore, I can't imagine this program will last any longer than the first "close call" terrorist event where someone sneaks through using this program. So yeah . . . judgment reserved.

  • WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @01:08PM (#36777012) Homepage

    It's like watching all of the scariest bits of 1984 and Brave New World all coming together.

    A world in which citizens have no liberties, and think that's how it should be. The state controls everything and tells you what to think. McCarthyism meets the Keystone Kops.

    If the Americans are voluntarily giving up all of their liberties for this farce of security ... then the rest of the world us screwed. Because governments which have slightly less compunction about running roughshod over their citizens will be quite willing to do this as well ... in fact, they'll be required to in order to allow a flight into the US. Give it time, and the US will require these like the other heightened security measures.

    So, the great bastion of personal liberties is essentially leading the charge to stripping them away from themselves and dragging everybody else along with them. All in the name of protecting those very liberties they're giving up.

    I grieve for what America used to stand for. I also grieve for how it bodes for the rest of us.

  • I've had this stupid Transport Worker Identification Credential smart card thing in my wallet for years now. I had to pass a background check and everything. If I can't use that DHS/TSA issued credential to skip security on flights under this trusted travel program, well, I guess what else should we expect form the government, efficiency?
  • by NevarMore ( 248971 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @01:09PM (#36777028) Homepage Journal

    I still think the TSA should be abolished and that no one should be subject to screening before any form of travel by the government.

    Will this system be separate or does it allow for equivalences? I have friends in security with actual government clearances and deep background checks. I have a concealed carry permit which subjects me to a mild background check and regular automated checks for arrests, convictions, restraining orders, and other such naughty behaviours.

    Of course lets not forget that I shouldn't have to dork around with any of this anyway. If I buy a ticket I should be allowed on the damn plane without a metal detector and without a screening unless that is part of the terms of the sale.

  • by TrumpetPower! ( 190615 ) <> on Friday July 15, 2011 @01:09PM (#36777034) Homepage

    Were I a nefarious evildoer, I'd figure out who's on this list -- easy to do by observing who goes through the line -- then kidnap said person's family and threaten to do horrible things to them unless they took this package on board.

    I mean, really. Does the TSA really think we're stupid enough not to see this for the security theater it so shamelessly is? Or do they simply not care any more?


    • If I were a nefarious evildoer, I would simply join the trusted traveler scheme myself.

      Why not? If "do you intend to become a suicide bomber" is one of the questions, I can simply answer "no". How would anyone know that I was lying?

    • Or do they simply not care any more?

      They only care about the money we let them spend.

    • They don't care because we as a country want convenience. If they can make something more convenient (quicker), than people will line up in droves for it. They, of course, will not think for a second that anything nefarious is occurring and gladly accommodate those "protecting" them.
    • As best I can make out, this is about making a shorter line for frequent travelers. I seriously doubt this is going to change the bag/person screening part of the procedure. (Not that the current screening isn't just security theater, but I don't think they're going to change it).

  • We've had this for a little while in Canada, and it works quite well. What they've done is re-purpose the Nexus Card [] for security lines.

    Nexus is a joint Canada-US initiative whereby applicants get pre-screened by both countries. If you are approved you can use self-declarations plus iris scanning (air) or RFID card (land) when entering Canada from anywhere or entering the US from Canada. The program is kludgy but it keeps getting improved. It costs $50 for five years and is absolutely indispensable

  • If you've ever worked for a company that is involved with certain government contracts you might have had to apply for a 'secret clearance'. There are of course many levels of this, but it does involve making all sorts of information available to the government to prove you are who you say you are. I would imagine that the level of clearance they are talking about for the trusted flier program is a few notches below that of a top secret clearance. My nephew recently got a job with a government agency req

  • I saw this yesterday on CNN and all I could think it sounds an awful like we're headed down the road to:

    "Papers please..."

  • Those who give up their liberty for more security neither deserve liberty nor security.
  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @01:24PM (#36777294) Journal

    'Cause my 8 year old just got denied at a TSA screening for having a snow globe in her carry on. I'm still trying to figure out the specific logic. It's not a blunt weapon, since you can take on all sorts of similar sized objects which could be used as blunt weapons. I'm not sure if it's glass, but if it is it would be no less of a weapon when broken than the mirror in my overnight bag if broken. It might be the liquid, but a globe is sealed and can't be opened without tools - which they won't let you carry on, so it can't be part of a binary (or higher) explosive to be combined int he air. (N.B.: it fit in a quart bag, though I'm sure there was more than 3oz of liquid in it) Of course, that would mean that it would have to be primary explosive...but they let us just check the bag, so they've let us put the explosive on the plane.

    DHS spends $50B a year; Half a Trillion dollars since the WTC/Pentagon incident. I want my fucking money back.

  • So all someone has to do to get easier security is hack their database and add their information in. Nice.

  • Ever. It's unpossible.
  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @01:42PM (#36777586)
    Yeah, the full body scanners raised privacy concerns, so obviously the answer is to volunteer our personal information to government, in exchange for not go through the scanner.
  • by Entropius ( 188861 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @01:46PM (#36777644)

    There are enough people gathered in a tight wad at airport security lines these days to present a far tastier target for terrorist attack than the planes themselves. Imagine a wheelie-suitcase full of explosive (with whatever precautions would be necessary to evade the bomb-sniffing dogs outside the airport -- I'm sure with an appropriate program of multiple layers of airtight seals and thorough chemical washing this could be done) and shrapnel set off in the middle of a security line; you'd probably kill at least a hundred people and close down the airport for a long time, causing millions of dollars in economic damage. Set it off close to the front and you stand a good chance of ruining a lot of expensive x-ray equipment in addition.

    Why go after the hard target when there are much easier fish to catch?

  • by Jawnn ( 445279 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @02:08PM (#36778000)
    ...intended to present-day Germans, but the definition of "trusted traveler" sounds way too much like "Good German" to me.
  • by X86Daddy ( 446356 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @02:44PM (#36778528) Journal

    This worked out really well for the collaborators last time: []

    I'll say it again: Do extra, voluntary action to cooperate with the police state in legitimizing the "papers please" nonsense, and get exactly what you deserve.

    It started as a simple excuse to lock you into your ticket purchases. It still has that negative effect, and not a single positive. After all, matching ID to ticket had been done for decades leading to, and of course on, 9/11.

  • by jeko ( 179919 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @04:45PM (#36779908)

    TSA/DHS annual budget: 43.1 billion.

    NASA annual budget: 17.3 Billion.

    We'd rather molest the children than secure their future.

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"