[IP] Air travel without ID. (fwd from dave at farber.net)

Tyler Durden camera_lumina at hotmail.com
Fri Aug 27 10:08:20 PDT 2004

This actually pisses me off.

Unlike more hard-line cypherpunks, I'm not (yet) convinced that 
government-originated laws are an inherent evil, even when I don't agree 
with them. The main problem comes when administration of these laws pretty 
much boils down to the whim of a local "authority". In this case the 
traveler didn't "look" like a terrorist, so he was OK. If the very same guy 
attempted this same procedure on the very next day, though wearing a "Stop 
Bush" shirt, I'd bet any amount of money he'd be denied the right to fly. So 
what it all boils down to is the personal whim of the law "enforcement" 
official, who at best is corrupt and at worst stupid and incompetant.


>From: Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org>
>To: cypherpunks at al-qaeda.net
>Subject: [IP] Air travel without ID. (fwd from dave at farber.net)
>Date: Fri, 27 Aug 2004 18:40:55 +0200
>----- Forwarded message from David Farber <dave at farber.net> -----
>From: David Farber <dave at farber.net>
>Date: Fri, 27 Aug 2004 11:42:19 -0400
>To: Ip <ip at v2.listbox.com>
>Subject: [IP] Air travel without ID.
>X-Mailer: Apple Mail (2.619)
>Reply-To: dave at farber.net
>Begin forwarded message:
>From: "Trei, Peter" <ptrei at rsasecurity.com>
>Date: August 27, 2004 11:03:58 AM EDT
>To: dave at farber.net
>Subject: Air travel without ID.
>[For IP, if you wish - pt]
>From RISKS 23.50:
>U.S. air travel without government identification
><Dan Wallach <dwallach at cs.rice.edu>>
>Thu, 19 Aug 2004 19:41:02 -0500
>Recently, John Gilmore has been publicly decrying the unstated Federal
>requirement that one must present government-issued identification
>(e.g., a
>driver's license) in order to travel via air within the U.S.
>for me, I got to test this requirement on a recent trip to give a talk
>Fermilab when I managed to leave my driver's license at home.  Here's
>For what it's worth, I've recently taken to carrying two wallets.  The
>one has my money, credit cards, receipts, and other assorted junk.  The
>small one has my business cards and the two ID cards I most often need:
>driver's license and my university ID card (a magstripe card that I
>need to
>get into my building after hours).  In order to make my flight at the
>ungodly hour of 7:35am, I had to get up quite early.  In the confusion
>the morning, I managed to leave the little wallet at home.  I didn't
>this oversight until I was standing in front of the ticket counter at
>7:00am.  In order to have gotten my driver's license, I would have had
>miss my flight.  Instead, I decided to see how the system would work
>== Intercontinental Airport: Houston, Texas
>I pleaded my case to the Continental ticket agent.  "Do you have any
>ID on you at all?"  Nope.  I showed her my Continental frequent flyer
>my credit card, and my social security card (which I probably shouldn't
>had in my wallet, but that's a story for another day) as well as my
>pass, printed that morning on my home computer.  She escorted me to the
>security guard, with all my cards in her hand, and briefly described the
>situation.  The guards expressed some confusion, but decided to let me
>through.  After that, everything proceeded normally.
>== Fermilab: Suburban Chicago, Illinois
>My hosts at Fermilab had helpfully arranged a rental car for me.  It
>on me that I'd never get out of the rental car lot without a driver's
>license.  I called Fermilab's travel agent and explained my
>predicament.  As
>it turns out, Fermilab has a limo service that they regularly use.  The
>travel agent made a reservation for me with the limo service, who
>picked me up at the airport and delivered me to Fermilab.
>If you're into high-energy physics, you know all about Fermilab.  For
>rest of us, they have a ring, about 1km in radius, around which they
>protons and anti-protons at very high energies, arranging for them to
>collide inside a massive detector.  Those high-energy collisions cause
>sorts of interesting subatomic particles to come flying out, hopefully
>to be
>detected by a variety of impressive devices.  (My high school physics
>teacher quipped that it's like trying to learn how cars work by smashing
>them together and seeing what falls out.)  Before September 11, the
>campus was wide open, and the locals could go fishing in the lake,
>around the ring, and so forth.  These days, you have to go to a guard
>Visitors get a limited pass and are instructed to only go to specific
>where they're allowed (e.g., the education center).  I'd been told that
>badge would be waiting for me.  The guard asked for my ID.  "Let me
>tell you
>a story," I began.  Ultimately, the guard had to telephone my hosts who
>drove down to the guard shack to pick me up.  After that, it was smooth
>== O'Hare Airport: Chicago, Illinois
>Everybody to whom I'd told this story was amazed that I'd gotten as far
>as I
>did, and I was repeatedly warned that O'Hare security was quite
>Just to make sure, I had the limo get me to the airport a full two hours
>before my 11:00am flight.  I printed out my boarding pass using the
>Continental kiosk, using my credit card to authenticate myself to the
>system, and then explained my story to the ticket agent.  "Do you have
>government issued ID?"  Sorry, no.  She wrote "SSSS" in big letters on
>boarding pass, highlighted it in pink, and pointed me at the security
>checkpoint: the special security checkpoint without a line in front of
>I walked up and presented my boarding pass to the guard. "ID?"  I began
>story, but the only phrase that seemed to matter was "No ID", which she
>wrote onto my boarding pass.  She then wrote "SSSS" again and circled
>also circling the original pink-highlighted copy.  On I went.  First the
>normal X-ray machine, take your laptop out, etc.  Then, on the other
>they gave me the extended treatment, which normally occurs when I've
>"randomly" selected.  They X-rayed my shoes, swabbed my laptop for
>explosives, and unzipped every compartment of my luggage.  After I
>all of those tests, they let me through, never once examining any of the
>cards I had in my wallet.
>Moral of the story
>While my story is hardly the same thing as a conclusive examination of
>policies of all major U.S. airports, my experience shows that it is,
>possible to do interstate air travel without a driver's license.
>You're no
>longer using the "fast path" of the airport security apparatus, and
>there is
>clearly some variation in how the rules govern your slow path through
>system.  However, if you're willing to put up with the "SSSS" treatment,
>then it appears that you can legally travel by air within the U.S.
>without a
>government-issued ID.  (Gilmore acknowledges this in his lawsuit, which
>focused on finding out where the requirement for presenting ID came
>from, in
>the first place.)
>As a Continental frequent flyer, I was invited to show up at the
>airport to
>be measured for a new biometric-based system that they've installed in
>Houston. (I think it measures fingerprints, but I'm not entirely sure.)
>  I
>was out of town, and thus unable to give that system a shot.  They do
>require several forms of ID to get yourself registered, so it will have
>wait for another day.  Maybe I'll give it a try and write something
>about it
>later for RISKS.  For all the known issues with biometric
>it's quite difficult to leave your fingerprints at home in the wrong
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>----- End forwarded message -----
>Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a>
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><< attach3 >>

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