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Foresight advisor challenges ID requirement

from the at-what-price-security? dept.
A prominent civil libertarian and member of the Foresight Board of Advisors has sued the U.S. government and two major airlines in favor of the right of U.S. citizens to travel anonymously: Suit challenges airline ID requirements

In a lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco, John Gilmore, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said that requiring ID from travelers who are not suspected of being a threat to airport security violates several amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

12 Responses to “Foresight advisor challenges ID requirement”

  1. RobVirkus Says:

    The Wrong Battle

    As a fellow U.S. citizen, I hold that I have a greater right to security through identification of all who board the aircraft which I am on than Mr. Gilmore has to his privacy. The issue is if everyone has to do it or not. This suit is a distraction and hindrance to our anti terrorists efforts. If Mr. Gilmore wins, I won't fly and I think it could cripple the industry.

  2. deoxyribozyme Says:

    Rich guy with nothing better to do

    Funny that this post was from the "at-what-price-security? dept." What we're seeing here is the price of boredom. Why don't you put your money toward finding a cure for autism, helping hungry children, or advancing nanotech?

    Moderator – take control and mod me up – Johnny "ID" Gilmore won't take it out on you, I promise. ;)

  3. flicker Says:

    I'm with John on this one

    This is a brave and, I think, useful action to take. It takes a lot of courage to face down popular laws. Not only are the enforcers going to oppose you, but even the populace which stands to gain from your actions will oppose you out of brute ignorance.

    The courts are an appropriate place to test sweeping changes to fundamental freedoms and I'm glad that someone is going to take these issues there. Judges, while still imperfect, are much more objective, more farsighted, certainly better educated and probably better informed than career politicians and bureaucrats. If the regulations are effective, appropriate, and legal they will likely stand. If not then good riddance.

  4. Mr_Farlops Says:

    Re:The Wrong Battle

    It seems to me that if we exchange privacy for paranoia, the terrorists, past and future, have already won. It's funny how security gets defined in these discussions. Isn't individual privacy a form of security too?

    Nanotechnology will make the panopticon startlingly easy. It's easy to imagine well-meaning legislation eroding privacy to a point where our thoughts are a matter of public record and a matter of public censure.

    It's true that evil people will use privacy to hide their crimes but do we really want to give up privacy just for some law and order? In the end, evil people, if they are determined, will always find ways to circumvent the surveillence and the rest of us will suffer anyway.

    I personally find the Libertarian movement smug and naive but I think I agree with them on this one: We must be vigilant of well-meaning erosion of individual rights and liberty. Ben Franklin warned us about this.

  5. RobVirkus Says:

    Re:The Wrong Battle

    Let's stop this nonsense about the terrorists winning if we merely take reasonable precautions not to be blown up by fanatics who care absolutely nothing about our principles. They declared war on us and we must defend ourselves. Pretending that all is normal may be high principled but it is also reckless and irresponsible. You ask if privacy is a form of security. Not to the public in this specific case. The individual in question may retain his privacy by seeking non public means of transportation. Tell me how the Constitution guaranties that I must personally accept a much higher risk during a war to protect one persons perceived sense privacy on public transport? You ask "do we really want to give up privacy just for some law and order? In the end, evil people, if they are determined, will always find ways to circumvent the surveillance and the rest of us will suffer anyway. " We may not want to but we need to give up some small amount of privacy for some measured security until the threat passes. Not all privacy for total security but some. Kantowitz invented the term "the weapon of openness" with regard to advanced technologies among societies. Tell me why we should not consider yielding some information about ourselves as a form of fighting this war. Why should openness apply only to governments and technologies and not to individuals with regard to public interaction? This is our best weapon. Let's use it. Our enemy is very determined and we must consider that in the equation. Let's not be fools. Let's not let the fox into the hen house.

  6. flicker Says:

    Re:The Wrong Battle

    If this were an effective mechanism for preventing terrorism and it were just a minor inconvenience then you might have a point. However that's not the case.

    The terrorists that acted on 9/11 all used photo-id with their real names and purchased tickets in those names. They all ran their baggage through scanners and walked through metal detectors. CAPS screened and approved their reservations. They didn't cleverly bypass airline security, they walked right through it. Airline security is substantially identical today. Even if they had reason to fear using their real names, false identification is easy to come by. The ID requirement is really a negligible barrier to someone willing to spend months preparing for an attack in which they give up their lives.

    ID requirements can't effectively stop teenagers from buying beer. They are not going to stop a large international organization. Anyone who thinks that existing airline security is going to stop a determined assailant is demonstrating a very limited imagination.

    As well, this is not a minor inconvenience to the innocent traveler. Your photo ID is literally your 'papers' now. If you lose it on a trip you have a very serious problem on your hands. You are not permitted to have two drivers licenses, or a duplicate state photo ID so a backup is not possible. This is not a theoretical problem; I travel every week and I've had at least two business trips fouled up over id issues since September 11 at a personal cost of days of time and hundreds of dollars.

    You think 'lack' of security will ruin the airlines? I think it could easily go the other way. I'm a substantial contributor to airline coffers and I used to be content with this arrangement. But now I can't wait to find another job because I am so tired of being treated like a criminal every time I go to work. The endless hassle of disrobing in the security line while a hundred anxious people wait their turn. Having my shoes minutely examined every two days, my toiletries dumped in a bucket and run through an XRAY machine and my neatly folded clothing jammed back into my carryon under the watchful eye of several armed men. I feel like a jew at a train station in nazi germany. I'm not going to take any more jobs that involve travel by air and I suspect that I'm not alone in this sentiment. Hundreds of thousands of people suffer this every day.

    I don't mind giving up something to gain something more important, and I'm not opposed to my travel being monitored. But give me a break. I'm being robbed here for no plausible benefit. Can I look forward to ever being able to travel freely again? There has been no declaration of war by Congress so there is no war to have an end to. No suggestion has been made that these restrictions will be lifted in the future. So the answer is no. I must be content to be minutely examined by a police officer every time I leave my home town for the rest of my life. This is the reality of airline security. Am I substantially safer? No.
    The risk was very, very small before. Its very, very small now, and it will never go completely away.

    We've may well be giving up our treasured right to freedom of movement for a feeble illusion of safety.

  7. RobVirkus Says:

    Re:The Wrong Battle

    You state "The ID requirement is really a negligible barrier to someone willing to spend months preparing for an attack in which they give up their lives." Well, what do you propose beyond just eliminating ID requirements? Is it better to select out people who merely look suspicious? Should we restrict travel for non citizens of certain ethnicity's? I think that would be far worse. Such a person truly would " feel like a jew at a train station in nazi germany." I speak as a person whose family has suffered exactly as you write in your example.

    You also state "The risk was very, very small before. Its very, very small now, and it will never go completely away." I don't call a well planned and coordinated attack a very very small risk. It was a certainty and it remains a virtual certainty that this small committed group of fanatics wants to commit murder on a massive scale.

    The problem is that if we suddenly stop these procedures we are inviting terrorists to repeat what they did. The war was declared on us and whether we formally reciprocate or not we are being warred against. We had better take it seriously.

  8. SeanKiely Says:

    Beg pardon?

    The article states:

    ". . .said that requiring ID from travelers who are not suspected of being a threat to airport security violates several amendments to the U.S. Constitution."

    What method, exactly, should be used to IDENTIFY persons suspected of being a threat? If we don't check their ID as a way of accomplishing this, what's the suggested alternative?

    In a perfect world, here's how we'd do it: we'd KNOW the identity of every person who we suspect is a threat, and we have someone follow them 24 hours a day who's ready to bust them if they try to board a plane. Better still, we identify such incontrovertable evidence that they INTEND to perform an act of terrorism that we arrest them before they ever approach the airport. Of course, we do this without using techniques that might impact their right to privacy, like wiretaps, or surveillance, or searches.

    In an imperfect world, we kludge together protective steps like requiring photo IDs of airline travellers. We grit our teeth and pretend not to hate having to do this. We pray that it helps prevent future acts of terror. We recognize that it won't always help, but it might sometimes help. And we acknowledge that it won't help, at all, when terrorists choose a different venue for their next act.

    Just because closing the barn door after the horses are out is stupid doesn't mean you don't do it. Maybe there's still a horse or two in there.

  9. bhoover Says:

    Re:The Wrong Battle

    A very insightful (as over the years I've come to verify) once mentioned something of this sort the thing – that is, the monitoring, tracking, etc. of citizen travel, as a means of controling a population. I don't know what the government – aside from the, albeit controversial to say, dubious threat of terrorism as a reason to restrict – is so all fired up to restrict freedom about, but I think it's downright scary, and worthy of sounding an alarm. The article to which I'm responding is a prime example. This guy's so fed up with the security checks involved with travling, he's just going to restrict his own freedom to do so. I don't blame him. The nazi image was a very powerful one.

  10. bhoover Says:

    Re:The Wrong Battle

    Indeed, as you say, checking IDs is probably not going to do any good.

    There's no good reason to allow personally related, as it's been termed in this thread, aggregation of information sources.

    It won't/doesn't serve any good purpose, but it presents much opportunity for abuse. Many may scoff at this idea, but human nature is susceptible – witness insider trading, misbhaving CEOs, the space shuttle disaster, coporate congressional lobbies. I once, working as a temp at my state's DMV, refused the subtle advances of an aging state worker, and my driver's license came up suspended – was almost arrested and my car towed, but that my then brother-in-law policeman showed up and called them off.

    Information management stewardship should not be taken lightly. It's kind like credit cards – easy to abuse them, sometimes difficult to make the connection between swiping and signing and the amount of green in your account. It's all just information in some computer right? And the Bill of Rights, just a piece of paper.

  11. bhoover Says:

    Re:Beg pardon?

    RE, "In an imprefect world we kludge together.." Actually, from a design standpoint, it is precisely an absence of kludging that makes the American system such a great one.

    We don't "kludge" in exceptions. Our laws are pretty consistent, and sometimes painfully so – one of freedom's prices. Our system is in essence, very much a bottom up, as opposed to top down design.

    Ask a WWII vet what they think – surely they've earned a weighty oppinion – and I dare say, the vet would not condone sacraficing freedom for security.

    Of course, the tack I'm taking is becoming a bit cliche. So when the truth starts to become cliche, do we start opting for its opposing view? Is that what it is? Have we all gotten tired of our freedom, or tired enough so that those who would gain from our losing it are beginning to succeed in convincing us it's a neccessary sacrafice?

    Sure, the claim is that we're at war. I don't see it. What, are fighting ghosts now? With all due respect to their victims – all I saw was a bunch of rogues hijack a few planes. War my ass. If we're at war, then draft me, and lets go blow the hell out of those who would otherwise to such to me.

    Until then, keeping slimy beurocratic hands off my freedom.

  12. bhoover Says:

    Re:The Wrong Battle

    >Let's stop this nonsense about the terrorists
    Some people don't see it as nonsense.

    >not to be blown up by fanatics who care
    >absolutely nothing about our principles.
    They don't care about our principles, but we do.

    >Pretending that all is normal may be high
    >principled but it is also reckless and
    >irresponsible.
    No, it's not normal, but it is brave, and brazen. I prefer sunlight to darkness, honor to shame, bravery to cowardess. Make your choice.

    >You ask if privacy is a form of security.
    >Not to the public in this specific case.
    >The individual in question may retain his
    >privacy by seeking non public means of
    >transportation.

    Good point.

    >Tell me how the Constitution guaranties that I
    >must personally accept a much higher risk
    >during a war to protect one persons
    >perceived sense privacy on public transport?
    First, what does "durring a war" have to do with it? Second, whether we are or aren't at war, is a matter of interpretation, not wholly a function of an official declaration.

    But, by the same token that I'm not compelled to take public transporation, niether are you. So find a safe private airline ;) .

    >Kantowitz invented the term "the weapon of
    >openness" with regard to advanced
    >technologies among societies. Tell me why we
    >should not consider yielding some
    >information about ourselves as a form of
    >fighting this war. Why should openness apply
    >only to governments and technologies and
    >not to individuals with regard to public
    >interaction? This is our best weapon. Let's
    >use it. Our enemy is very determined and we
    >must consider that in the equation. Let's
    >not be fools. Let's not let the fox into
    >the hen house.
    Openness does not apply to individuals in the present context, because it can be abused – and in 'dancing with an elephant' analagy fashion. But it's not just a case of there being nothing to lose, so why not. It's not even a case of, there's a lot to gain, so it's worth the sacrafice. It's a case of, there's nothing to gain, and a lot to loose. Now, who would be the fool in this scenario?

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