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Your Right to Travel Anonymously: Not Dead Yet

CowboyNeal posted more than 10 years ago | from the need-to-know dept.

The Courts 1353

ChiralSoftware writes "Remember John Gilmore's fight to be able to travel on commercial airlines without having to show ID? It has dropped out of the news for a while, but now it appears that the fight is continuing. I remember in the 80s we used to make jokes about Soviet citizens being asked "show me your papers" and needing internal passports to travel in their own country. Now we need internal passports to travel in our country. How did this happen? The requirement to show ID for flying on commercial passenger flights started in 1996, in response to the crash of TWA Flight 800. This crash was very likely caused by a mechanical failure. How showing ID to board a plane prevents mechanical failures is left as an exercise to the reader. How mandatory ID even prevents terrorist attacks is also not clear to me; all the 9/11 hijackers had valid government-issued ID. I hope the courts don't wimp out on this fight."

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Why else? (4, Insightful)

beh (4759) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989163)

You wonder why?

Two words: PatrIDiot Act

Governments are more interested in how much more power they can get their hands on, rather than what's actually best for the people.

What's best for the people is only important in the last few months before an election - and only then if the issue is a truly popular one and you wouldn't know how to twist it.

[Watch the BBC classic comedy series of "Yes, Minister" and "Yes, Prime Minister" for some *really* neat insight into politics... ;-)

Re:Why else? (4, Insightful)

mikael (484) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989196)

In other words (Bernard's Longest Sentence):

Apparently, the fact that you needed to know was not known at the time that the now known need to know was known, therefore those that needed to advise and inform the Home Secretary perhaps felt the information he needed as to whether to inform the highest authority of the known information was not yet known and therefore there was no authority for the authority to be informed because the need to know was not, at that time, known or needed.

Or to summarise:

It's better that the government knows what it dosn't know, than it dosn't know what it dosn't know.

Re:Why else? (4, Insightful)

beh (4759) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989225)

Ah - you mean this is an issue of Donald Rumsfelds "known knowns", "known unknowns", and "unknown unknowns"? ;-)

Re:Why else? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989246)

Before he added "Iraq Cluster Fuck" to his resume, his crowning achivement was getting Nutrasweet (which is neither nutricious, nor particularly sweet) to market.

Re:Why else? (-1, Flamebait)

Randy Wang (700248) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989258)

You seem to be misunderestimating Bush and his cronies, you silly fellow. Particularly with your glaring omission of "unknown knowns" ;-)

Re:Why else? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989319)

The real "unknown" is why does the "God" that "speaks" to Bush sound exactly like Ariel Sharon?

Re:Why else? (3, Insightful)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989276)

The problem with privacy is that 90% of the people will never have an issue with it. Really, as long as my neghbor does not spy on me, I'm OK. The reason?

1. I'm not going to do anything illegal. Sure, the government could make something I do now illegal and then come after me. If it's a small thing, I'll stop it. If it's a big thing, I'll use the soap box, ballot box, and ammo box.

2. It makes it slightly harder to get away with something. If you are required to use ID everywhere, tracking you back to your source quickly can give other possible sources a moment of pause before they try anything else. If we could attack the terrorist heads within hours of a major attack, we might be able to keep them from trying anything.

3. There are more important things to worry about. Education, health care, campaign finance reform...those are things I choose to focus on. Privacy, while it is on my list, does not even make the top 10. Review your priorities and decide what's important. Realize that if you are focused on 20 different things, not a single one will ever get done. Attack the problem and, when it is solved, move to the next thing.

Really, do you travel on a plane enough to really give a shit?

Re:Why else? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989325)

I don't really see the problem here. A lot of people give out private information when buying (normal) stuff, or participating in some sort of competion. Companies keep track of your records.

When you buy your ticket the airliner already knows where you are going at what time and I suppose the government could have had access to that information even before 9/11 if they wanted to. So to me an ID check is merely a confirmation that you are the person that you claimed to be when purchasing the ticket.

Maybe it can help preventing some people from doing something stupid. You will have to go through the trouble of getting a fake ID or try to get one the regular way and hope not to get caught.

How I lost my anal virginity to a weapon of mass d (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989168)

It was teh summer of 104 and my country was again at war. This time with Iraq, a nation with alot of oil and even more weapons of mass destruction. My brilliant president and convinced my hyper-intelligent countrymen that not only did Iraq have weapons of mass destruction, but they were a threat to me and my family In the USA, or freedom-land as it is now known. Yes, the time was right for liberation of the oil of Iraq to its rightful owner, Hallburton. Who better to take custody of Iraq's oil than teh company that had provided Iraq with its weapons of mass destruction? Even if you don't enjoy their weapons of mass destructionm Dick Cheney's Halliburton is a great American company, definately worthy of the tax breaks it no doubt gets.

Re:How I lost my anal virginity to a weapon of mas (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989295)

I, for one, welcome our neo-con, Ariel Sharon ass kissing, evil yankee imperialist bastard overlords.

We all know the answer (1)

the_unknown_soldier (675161) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989170)

"ah, terrorism" "september 11th" "brave new world" Welcom to the united states of BOO, enjoy your stay

The horse is out of the barn for good..... (3, Interesting)

Dr Reducto (665121) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989178)

I honestly don't see us being able to travel san id ever again. Losing freedoms seems to be a one way street.

However, a government can never take away your rights, they can only chose to not honor them.

Re:The horse is out of the barn for good..... (2, Informative)

ArbiterOne (715233) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989195)

Losing freedom is a one-way street? Do you still pay taxes under the Stamp Act, then? Not that I'm advocating such a solution...

Re:The horse is out of the barn for good..... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989203)

Yes its a one way street......

Until we start voting with our rifles...

The consitution has been perverted to far in the Coporate States of America. Free Country? Since When? War on Drugs? So you declared war on American People....

Thats TREASON

Orwell was off by 20 years.....

Re:The horse is out of the barn for good..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989256)

Workers of the world, hear my cry!!

Rise up against the YANKEE IMPERIALIST BASTARDS!!

Re:The horse is out of the barn for good..... (4, Insightful)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989205)

Losing freedoms seems to be a one way street

Remember 1789?

(hint: it happened in France and involved guillotines)

Re:The horse is out of the barn for good..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989251)

Technically, by default no one has any 'rights' whatsoever: organisms going around, doing whatever they wish to do that they can do.

All that 'rights' are are rights that a person declares that he/she is giving a person (sometimes himself/herself, sometimes not) and can enforce.

Ho Hum (5, Insightful)

turgid (580780) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989186)

How showing ID to board a plane prevents mechanical failures is left as an exercise to the reader. How mandatory ID even prevents terrorist attacks is also not clear to me;

I suspect it is for two main reasons: to help identify the corpses and in the case of fake IDs, to provide a starting point for the police to investigate.

I agree though, it does nothing to improve safety.

Gummint (1)

Abundantes (780802) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989202)

A good thing the November election is not that far away any more.

Re:Gummint (2, Insightful)

turgid (580780) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989212)

Yes, I hope you Americans depose your dictator :-) Then I hope that cretin Tony Blair gets a clue (and David Blunkett too) and we can depose him next year as well! :-)

This "War on Terror" is nothing but a war on Freedom. It is an instrument of corrupt government to entrench their political and financial interests at our expense.

Re:Gummint (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989271)

Fight the YANKEE IMPERIALIST BASTARDS!!

Anybody but Bush 2004!!

FUGW

Re:Ho Hum (5, Insightful)

beh (4759) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989208)

I'm sorry - how does having showed your ID actually help in identifying a specific corpse out of all the corpses surrounding a crash site?

If you were after THAT - shouldn't you rather go for DNA samples of each passenger before a flight (and discard the samples unchecked in case the flight landed safely)?

As for the fake IDs - again, the terrorists used their original IDs. Nothing fake to spot there...
(Especially if you bear in mind that unlike, say, a thief who might have several previous offences as a thief, a suicide bomber will never have a previous offence as such -- either he succeeded; or in case he didn't - intelligence agencies will probably stay sooo interested as to whom these people deal with that they'll never be in shape to try again [once they're released from prison, that is].

Re:Ho Hum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989226)

Hi, it's called inventory and it's a pain in the ass. And DNA tests are expensive and time consuming at any rate.

Re:Ho Hum (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989234)

I'm sorry - how does having showed your ID actually help in identifying a specific corpse out of all the corpses surrounding a crash site?

Well, you see, before, they had no way of knowing who was on the aeroplane. Now they have a better idea (although not 100% reliable due to fakes). So if 270 people die in a mangled plane wreck, the investigators' job just became a bit easier.

What I want to know is, can these new-fangled airport security systems detect ceramic knives and guns?

Re:Ho Hum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989267)

Yes. In the case of the knives, just the edge is ceramic. The whole blade being ceramic would be very cool, but expensive, and prone to shattering. You could make a corningwear type blade, and then put another ceramic edge on it, but still the posts that the blade pivits on, and the spring will almost certainly be metal.

In the case of gun, the firing pin, springs, and I would imagine the barrel are still going to be metal at the very least.

Re:Ho Hum (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989274)

What I want to know is, can these new-fangled airport security systems detect ceramic knives and guns?

don't you remember that much poo-poo'ed terahertz system that was basically described by the media as a voyeur-enabling machine?

i still have the image of the not-so-sexy x-ray-spec photo of that woman burned in my retinas.

Re:Ho Hum (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989307)

New-fangled system? Oh, you mean the brown people are evil search them and make sure you feel up the women system?

Re:Ho Hum (1)

dmayle (200765) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989209)

to help identify the corpses

That's exactly why they have those optional cards that you fill out before with your name, and someone to contact in case of emergency. The ID checks have nothing to do with that.

To identify... (3, Insightful)

pixas (711468) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989188)

How mandatory ID even prevents terrorist attacks is also not clear to me

It probably doesn't, but i imagine it helps to identify the passengers in case of a crash.

Re:To identify... (1)

sita (71217) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989237)

It probably doesn't, but i imagine it helps to identify the passengers in case of a crash.

Indeed. In Sweden we discovered that shipping companies were not required to keep passenger lists when Estonia [wikipedia.org] sank. Most of the bodies were not recovered, making it quite difficult to sort out who had gone down with her.

Needless to say, high sea passenger ships are now required to keep passenger lists. (Though, id control is not that strictly enforced)

Re:To identify... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989282)

Indeed. In Sweden we discovered that shipping companies were not required to keep passenger lists when Estonia sank. Most of the bodies were not recovered, making it quite difficult to sort out who had gone down with her.

Needless to say, high sea passenger ships are now required to keep passenger lists. (Though, id control is not that strictly enforced)


This is due to a lack of a passenger lists, not due to a lack of Passport or ID control.

You yourself say ID control is not enforced, yet passenger ships are required to keep lists (which makes sense).

I am willing to guess that most passengers held ID of some sort and if their bodies were recovered, then they could be identified. Having enforced passport and ID checks would not improve this any further.

Your point although valid with the Estonia, really does not have an impact on internal flights, which already have the measure you describe (as well as next of kin cards).

Re:To identify... (2, Insightful)

tobirius (743723) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989279)

Now that seems sensible, giving up my freedom, so after I'm dead, people won't have to much of a hassle.

Sort of understandable (2, Insightful)

paganizer (566360) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989193)

I'm not known for supporting or even tolerating anything that infringes on anyones civil liberties, but I don't really have a problem with people having to show ID to fly aboard a commercial carrier.
There is just too much chance of 1 person being able to cause harm to a large number of other people.
If they required ID to fly in a private plane, or ride as a passenger in a auto, I would bitch very loudly.
Of course, they just made it so that you have to tell the myour name when asked, but as far as I know it's not illegal to lie about what your name is, unless you actually end up being arrested.
So I'm just bitching quietly, for the moment.

Re:Sort of understandable (1)

RogueProtoKol (577894) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989231)

I don't have a problem with police being able to show id in a public place, after all, it's too much of a chance of 1 person being able to cause harm to a large number of people by carrying a suicide bomb. Of course, I'm assuming all suicide bombers will have phoned in advanced to make sure the police know to arrest anyone with their id.

Re:Sort of understandable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989247)

Whoops, I meant "police being able to request id"

Re:Sort of understandable (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989236)

There is just too much chance of 1 person being able to cause harm to a large number of other people.

And picture ID changes this how exactly? As stated in the blurb: "How mandatory ID even prevents terrorist attacks is also not clear to me; all the 9/11 hijackers had valid government-issued ID."

Re:Sort of understandable (5, Insightful)

the_twisted_pair (741815) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989278)

I don't really have a problem with people having to show ID to fly aboard a commercial carrier.
There is just too much chance of 1 person being able to cause harm to a large number of other people

*/me checks list*:

Intention to cause destruction, check;

plastique, check;

evil plans, check;

fake ID - oh bugger, there's no way I'll carry that off. Perhaps I'll stay home and water the roses instead.

It's called the illusion of security - insert Ben Franklin quote here. It does not solve any of the issues that lead the one or two to cause, or attempt to cause, harm. If we tried a little harder to understand or even address the causes, we wouldn't be in this mess now.

Re:Sort of understandable (4, Informative)

richieb (3277) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989312)

It's called the illusion of security - insert Ben Franklin quote here.

Bruce Scheneier [schneier.com] calls this "Security Theatre".

UK domestic flights (5, Insightful)

MBAFK (769131) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989197)

Some airlines require ID for domestic flights in the UK. One theory is that they want to stop people from buying lots of cheap "£1" tickets uses by the airline as a marketing ploy and then selling them on to random people for a profit. Rynair [ryanair.com] is an example.

Re:UK domestic flights (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989293)

Rynair don't (didn't) even accept genuine valid UK Military ID for a flight within the UK mainland. (It wasn't even between the mainland and Nortern ireland) They did, however accept student ID for security purposes.

Sorry, I don't have a link to the story or its follow-ups. Check on the BBC and Daily Telegraph sites. (The aviation press should also have articles on the incident)

Not having valid driving license (I don't drive) passport (I don't travel outside the UK mainland) student ID (I joined the real world almost 20 years ago) or national ID (It's not compulsory ... yet) gets me labelled as a terrorist by the airlines and a money launderer by the banks. Not bad going in a country where when the courts are required to presume innocence unless proven guilty.

Re:UK domestic flights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989332)

The topic wasn't what the airlines require. It was what the (US) government requires.

Simple (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989199)

Once a group of people on an airplane beat to death a few of the Arabs congregating around a lavatory in a suspicious manner, it'll be something of a non-problem. So that this might happen sooner, I propose issuing Texaco cards to members of the Hell's Angels and instead of extra gas, frequent flyer miles with no black-out dates.

The only think I don't like is people harrassing the poor Sieks. Seriously, let's concentrate on mercilessly punishing just the arabs and muslims. Make them feel at home, like they were still under the totalitarian regimes most of them fled because they didn't like having to be on-guard at all times.

Re:Simple (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989345)

Silly liberal, ALL BROWN PEOPLE ARE EVIL!! When will you commies learn that!?

Security helps create insecurity (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989204)

Every time they build up a wall,
they create something that makes someone want to pull it down.
The more Orwellian the world becomes, the more disempowered people become, and therefore the more they seek to assert their independence by attacking the 'security'.

Wow idiology above lives eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989206)

They knew about terrorist threats back in 1996 but it was hard for people who haven't seen the damage to believe in them.

The government wasn't sharing and correlating all the data with the passenger manifests by 9/11.

I for one want them to!

This isn't an issue that is theoretical now. It is about knowing the people climbing into what are effectively giant bombs aren't nut case extremist's intent on killing the rest of us.

Its not a conspiracy (4, Interesting)

bshellenberg (779684) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989207)

I know /.ers tend to believe there is a conspiracy behind every bush, but there isn't in this case. The requirement (and the reason you can't change seats *after* boarding an airplane) is purely (as another said) to identify the corpses. Its for the insurance companies and pending lawsuits etc. It has *nothing* to do with the Patriot Act, your removal of civil liberties or anything else.

Re:Its not a conspiracy (2, Insightful)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989229)

I admit I don't know much about aircraft crash investigation, but it seems highly improbable to me that any number of aircraft crash victims would still be in their seats after, well, a major crash...

I think that's what dental records are for.

Re:Its not a conspiracy (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989280)

Dental records can confirm an identity, but they'd still need whose records to seek in the first place before they can play that game.

Re:Its not a conspiracy (2, Insightful)

sita (71217) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989283)

The requirement (and the reason you can't change seats *after* boarding an airplane) is purely (as another said) to identify the corpses.

If that was the case, then there would only be one toilet on a plane, right? (When was that requirement introduced? I don't fly all that often, and mostly in Europe, but I haven't noticed.)

Re:Its not a conspiracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989292)

I believe there is a conspiracy behind every bush

Re:Its not a conspiracy (5, Funny)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989306)

I know /.ers tend to believe there is a conspiracy behind every bush
I thought it was a Bush behind every conspiracy?

Re:Its not a conspiracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989356)

No there is a CHENEY behind every conspiracy. And maybe that racist fucker Daniel Pipes that Shrub appointed to the US institute for peace despite the fact that Pipes makes Ariel Sharon look like a peacenik.

What a troll... (4, Insightful)

Big Sean O (317186) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989311)

Seriously, you've never been on a plane where you couldn't switch seats after you sat down? My wife and I travel and when our seats are separated, people usually are very willing to swap seats to put us closer.

I've also flown internationally where there was so many empty seats that we were able to move around and get our own row (in some cases).

Plus, have you ever been to a plane crash? It's not like everyone stays in their seats.

So, if you've got better information, share it. But your vague assurance that it's just for lawsuits is bs.

Re:Its not a conspiracy (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989315)

Haha.. I actually laughed out loud at this... Just the thought that my charred, burning corpse would still be neatly fastened to my seat, and that the seat would still be neatly attached to the fuselage, with the seat number sticker on the overhead still in tact, after SLAMMING INTO THE GROUND AT 500 MPH, was just hilarious.

Re:Its not a conspiracy (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989350)

The same sort of stupidity is why they leave the crashed cars on the interstate for hours -- so they can give the insurance companies enough info so work it all out. One study showed that a major block on an interstate can cost a million dollars a minute in other peoples time.

ID's (5, Insightful)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989218)

Funny thing, when we in eastern europe start loosing papers, you guys just begin to get some more.

I don't like what I see day by day, that people just have to give up a bit more freedom to ascertain "safety" (baah). Where I have lived most of my life, you could go nowhere without papers, let alone fly (god forbid).

Hopefully you guys won't loose too much and hopefully we will get some more and then we could meet half ways up :)

Re:ID's (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989305)

I had an interesting situation when I parked under the Prudential Center tower in Boston last week. The security officer wanted to look in my trunk and see a photo ID. I went to my wallet for my driver's license, but before that card came up from the pile of cards I hit my customer card from BJ's Wholesale Club [bjs.com] . That was good enough for him and he sent me along.

simple solution (5, Interesting)

HBI (604924) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989223)

Vote with your wallet. I don't fly unless absolutely positively there is no other way to get to there from here in a reasonable time frame. Otherwise, I avoid airports. They consume my time and have wasteful, feelgood 'security measures' which actually provide no security at all.

The last straw for me was having my shoes searched three times on the way to a plane. I was wearing a pair of sneakers. No metal in there.

Government mandated security measures in airports are geared to one goal, and one goal only - maintaining the status quo in the airline industry. It's an attempt to construct a valid excuse for the next hijacking. "After all, we made you show ID and confiscated your 3/4" long insulin needles, don't blame us."

Security professionals my ass, they don't have a chance in hell of catching a committed hijacker either before 9/11 or now. Get people used to that idea and stop with the stupid 'security' crap. You can also die on your morning commute to a truck driver snorting crank. Get a grip, death is all around us. You could drop dead reading this post. Really.

Re:simple solution (4, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989266)

At this point, even the airlines will thank you for not flying them.

Chicago's O'Hare airport is so overbooked that the FAA is threatening to cancel flights in advance simply because even if the condiditions are clear and perfect all day, there's no way all the planes can take off on time because of the schedule being too tight.

The current airline system just wasn't designed for the volume of users it currently has. The old-line airlines are failing, while new line airlines like JetBlue and Southwest are stepping forward with simpler flight schedules and pricing models. They appear to be the wave of the future there.

Re:simple solution (2, Interesting)

sotonboy (753502) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989313)

In the U.K we're planning for increased capcity for 30- 40 years from now. What these planners dont seem to realise is that 30-40 years from now, Airline flight will be unsustainably expensive, due to oil costs. I reckon passenger numbers will actually be way lower. Furthermore, I think youll start to see it drop in the next 5 years, not 30-40. So maybe you overcrowded airports wont last for so long.

Re:simple solution (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989288)

"don't fly unless absolutely positively there is no other way to get to there from here in a reasonable time frame."

You people with your faulty forms of boycotts. I am boycotting a product unless I really want it. Boycotts are not an easy thing to do. If you are going to boycott a product then do it right. Boycott it even when it is to your disadvantage. The company cannot get a single cent from you. Unfortunately it seems little people know how to boycott anymore. Thus we have all these problems

Re:simple solution (1)

HBI (604924) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989340)

Holding a job requires making compromises. I do my best.

Re:simple solution (1)

Max Threshold (540114) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989334)

I haven't flown since 9/11, and I won't until all pilots carry handguns or there are armed air marshals on every domestic flight.

Not for security but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989228)

This is all about money. This keeps you from selling/giving your tickets to another person, unless you buy their high dollar, refundable, exchangeable, transferable ticket.

Biometrics (0, Offtopic)

toriver (11308) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989232)

ID papers are so last century. What you need is to operate positionable biometric chips into people's hands.

Yes, I did watch Demolition Man yesterday, why do you ask? Greetings and salutations, citizen, and a happy day to you.

When the system fails, nothing works... (2, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989235)

The various post-9/11 inquiries from the government and the media all seem to have agreed that we were close to breaking up the attacks before they happened, but we didn't connect the dots in time. MSNBC-TV recently aired a special edition of their Hardball program where they spotlighted twelve seperate things that could have prevented the attacks had any of them gone perfectly, but they didn't.

For all the attacks that happen or that we hear about after being broken up, there's got to be dozens of plots that are being aborted or lose key personel to arrest before they had time to mature into being specific enough to pick an exact target.

As scary as it is for our "free" government to be fighting a "secret" war, we have to remember that a government-like entity without any homeland is already fighting against us that way.

Re:When the system fails, nothing works... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989270)

As scary as it is for our "free" government to be fighting a "secret" war, we have to remember that a government-like entity without any homeland is already fighting against us that way.

If only they were really "government-like" instead of efficient, effective, and remorseless. Probably not a lot of Al Quaeda operatives wondering whether they did the "right thing" on 9/11.

It's a race between the universe and... (1)

sita (71217) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989318)

For all the attacks that happen or that we hear about after being broken up, there's got to be dozens of plots that are being aborted or lose key personel to arrest before they had time to mature into being specific enough to pick an exact target.

These measures will stop all the terrorist equivalent of script-kiddies, the copy cats that try to repeat 9/11 (or similar). But what really made 9/11 9/11 was that these guys thought outside of the box. Noone expected hijackers to use planes as missiles. Now everyone does, so 9/11 type of attacks are more likely to fail since hijacked planes risk being shot down by the air force.

There is always the risk that someone will come up with a novel idea that circumvents all the security measures put up to prevent the repeat of 9/11. This is a thought provoking article by Jef Raskin: http://humane.sourceforge.net/unpublished/next_tim e_can_be_worse.html [sourceforge.net]

This is the trade-off, isn't it? (1)

basingwerk (521105) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989238)

It is ironic that many slashdotters work in information systems, yet they are anxious about identity systems. To function, databases depend on unique primary keys for each record, and from that comes the need to overtly establish a person's identity. It isn't just in airlines where this is done. You have a number on your car for a similar reason, and a NI number of some sort. If we want to systematise, this is the trade-off, isn't it?

Re:This is the trade-off, isn't it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989294)

So would you agree to give your car's VIN number every time you wanted to buy a tank of gas? How about your NI (national insurance?) number every time you ordered food in a restaurant?

Re:This is the trade-off, isn't it? (1)

basingwerk (521105) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989322)

If we make an assumption that we go cashless, perhaps in 5 to 10 years, I'd need a way to establish my identity to buy anything, so a primary key number for each person might be the best thing, yes.

Re:This is the trade-off, isn't it? (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989343)

a NI number of some sort
NI number = National Insurance number (equivalent to Social Security Number in the US) for those from outside the UK.

Also, I don't understand the parent's argument, your NI number is needed for work to keep track of your tax/NI deductions, nothing else. This is not a privacy issue as far as I can see.

Contacting Family. (5, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989242)

Well people like to say it is security, but I think it is more towards financial security. When ever there is an accident and people unfortunately die. There is the issue of notifying the victims family to inform them of their death. And the families gets the insurance money from the airline, as well other donations from generous people. With all this money moving around after the accident you need some method of making sure the family saying that their Brother and Husband died actually was on the plane. Because there are a lot of unscrupulous people who will report that a person had died on the plane to collect the insurance money and worse collect some donations from kind citizens. Besides this person who "Died" in the air plane may had an alternative method of wanting to get off the records of police. So there is a air plane explosion were there was no survivors and everyone was vaporized, just get some family to say that you were on the plane you are labeled dead. And police are no longer looking for you, and your family gets some extra cash that they might push your way.

I Find that there is often 3 reasons why people do something.

1. The reason they promote it. (It is good for security!)
2. The reason why they care about it. (It was save me a lot of money)
3. Suff they dont want to tell. (This could be use to track anyone.)

Some questions (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989255)

I'm not an alarmist, but I travel by air often enough that I wonder about a few things:

- How do we know that the person who bought the ticket is the person who boarded the airplane? Without an ID check, it would be possible for person A to buy the ticket and person B to board the airplane. A simple ID check prevents this.

- As a previous poster stated, how do we know who is in which seat? I've seen "seat hopping" on many flights, and I've done it myself. Frankly, I'd like my family to get *my* remains, not those of the guy who took my seat after I moved to a different row.

- I sometimes order a special meal. How do I prove that the meal is for me, and not for someone claiming to be me? Not that someone would like my veggie special... but...

- What's wrong with "profiling" the *frequent* flyer? I'd *love* the idea of a "frequent flyer ID card", if it would speed up my passage thru the security checks - the most time-consuming part of flying. If all I have to give is my name, address, place of work, and previous flight history... shit, they can get that on the internet!

I agree that an ID doesn't prevent a mechanical failure. But, that statement is tantamount to saying that there is a direct corollary between wearing a watch and arriving on time. They don't relate at all.

ID checks are simply that: ID checks. Unless the government begins to use them in a *negative* way, I don't see ID checks as an issue. And, by "negative", I mean restrictions on who may fly, where they may fly, and when they may fly... if at all.

Re:Some questions (2, Informative)

richieb (3277) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989285)

- How do we know that the person who bought the ticket is the person who boarded the airplane? Without an ID check, it would be possible for person A to buy the ticket and person B to board the airplane. A simple ID check prevents this.

And why would we want to prevent this? If I buy a non-refundable ticket and I am unable to fly that particular time, I can't sell the ticket because of the ID check.

So, the airline gets my money and an empty seat, and I get nothing.

That's a problem with airline ticketing policy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989327)

It isn't a per-se identification or security issue. The airlines are the ones who overbook and don't allow you to cash in your unused ticket. Complain to the airline in question.

Congress mandated *identification* rules. The FAA is a useless piece of toast. And the airlines just want your money: it's ok with them if you never board the actual flight :-)

Re:Some questions (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989339)

Actually, most "non-refundable" tickets simply mean you can't get your cash back. However, you can trade your not-going-to-be-used ticket back to the airline for what's effectlively a "store credit" worth the value you paid for the ticket minus a $50-$75 cancelation fee to cover the risk that your ticket might not be resold.

So, on most US airlines, for a modest fee you can convert a ticket for person A on flight B to a ticket for person C on flight D.

Re:Some questions (1)

sita (71217) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989331)

- As a previous poster stated, how do we know who is in which seat? I've seen "seat hopping" on many flights, and I've done it myself. Frankly, I'd like my family to get *my* remains, not those of the guy who took my seat after I moved to a different row.


Well as long as they know which 180 people were on the plane, the search space for DNA analysis is just a lot smaller.

So what is wrong (-1, Troll)

PineGreen (446635) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989257)

I really don't understand what is the matter with people having trouble showing their ID... What is so special about privacy? I don't mind somebody looking at me, checking my IDs and stuff, in fact, I would be quite amused if someone installed a govt camera in my toilet...

Re:So what is wrong (1)

Dashing Leech (688077) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989321)

in fact, I would be quite amused if someone installed a govt camera in my toilet...

What do you mean if. BTW, looks like you had a little too much spicy food last night, huh? And next time, don't forget to wash your hands afterward.

This is about victim identification, not crashes (2, Interesting)

ivec (61549) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989261)

Say a plane crashes today in the Atlantic, and you know that many bodies may never be recovered.

How many families will want to know for sure if a relative was on board or not? How many individuals may want to claim they, or a given relative, where on board to get a hefty life insurance payment?

Even if bodies are found and recovered, it really helps for any kind of forensics to have the IDs of all passengers.

I do not think that having to show an ID is such a problem. The issue I'd have is with the storage and centralization of ID information.

Re:This is about victim identification, not crashe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989302)

Say a plane crashes today in the Atlantic, and you know that many bodies may never be recovered.

On an internal flight? RTFA

Why complain? (1)

astrotek (132325) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989264)

You should be responsible for your actions. Public travel falls under the umbrella of being responsible. If you want to travel anyomously you can, just not on regulated travel systems that are trying to be safe. The excuse that you shouldnt have to show ID because people can fake it is like saying you should use the default root password because anyone can bruteforce your machine if given the chance.

Maybe not on the plane (1)

sita (71217) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989265)

How mandatory ID even prevents terrorist attacks is also not clear to me; all the 9/11 hijackers had valid government-issued ID.

Well, maybe not on the plane. But if they travel by plane to commit a terrorist act at their destination, maybe the ID requirement could help preventing the terrorist act. (maybe...could, right)

You guys have been checking ID at the border for a long time. Since most people who hate the American government are already inside the US, this seems to be of uncertain value.

Re:Maybe not on the plane (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989289)

No kidding... by last count, there are about 290 million people who hate the US government - already living within its borders...

It's All About The Lists (3, Funny)

RWarrior(fobw) (448405) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989269)

ID is now required so that airlines can cross-check against the politcally-motivated, secret, error-ridden watch lists of people who are from unpopular countries filled with little brown people.

hypocrisy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989272)

I met a guy once who said he'll never fly commercial until he can carry his handgun aboard. I bet the people posting here wouldn't want to fly with him.

Seriously, after all that's happened...don't you want some kind of security?

The same people complaining about this are the same people who complained about the government not stopping 9/11.

The public wants/demands security on airlines. Our legislature and executive branch created the Patriot Act while representing us. The Senate voted 98-1. The House voted 356-66.
A lot of people would like to ignore this and pretend that John Ashcroft wrote it, but it's our public officials. He just does his job trying to enforce it.

Re:hypocrisy (0)

Nodatadj (28279) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989320)

> I met a guy once who said he'll never fly
> commercial until he can carry his handgun aboard.

Was his name Eric by any chance?

Airline security is a sham anyway (5, Insightful)

Buzh (74397) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989273)

For some reason or other, items such as nail files and scissors, screwdrivers, your trusty leatherman, even pieces of common cutlery only suited for cutting butter are stricly verboten to carry onto commercial airliners. However, what sort of security is this supposed to provide?

I just flew from the UK two nights ago, and in the tax-free area after the security control, you are able to purchase D-cell maglites. As those in the know would tell you, the most dangerous part of a knife for use in close combat is not the blade, but the handle. Applied to the head of the adversary it is more likely to be deadly than the blade applied to the torso. Same thing with a maglite or any other object of similar hardlyness for that matter.

A highly motivated would-be hijacker could easily find similar makeshift weaponry that would be just as effective as knives or nail-files. In fact, the easiest of all would be simple social engineering; i.e. claiming that there was a bomb onboard and that an unidentified accomplice would set it off if certain conditions are not met would probably allow a hijacker to meet his requirements with little or no danger of being apprehended before the plane was airborne.

So why are we being hassled to such a ridiculous extent in airports? Probably so that most passengers will be lulled into a sense of security as well as making the task of airline hijacking seem much more complicated to the casual hijacker seeking escape from a hostile regime, political attention, quick cash, or some other common reason. The dedicated terrorist would likely find a way around anyway.

Re:Airline security is a sham anyway (1)

sita (71217) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989352)

I just flew from the UK two nights ago, and in the tax-free area after the security control, you are able to purchase D-cell maglites. As those in the know would tell you, the most dangerous part of a knife for use in close combat is not the blade, but the handle. Applied to the head of the adversary it is more likely to be deadly than the blade applied to the torso. Same thing with a maglite or any other object of similar hardlyness for that matter.

Yep. But it raises the bar a bit. Most people are able to kill with the blade of a knife. Many people are not able to easily kill another person with the hilt.

Maybe... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989284)

...if people had to show ID back in 2001, an actual investigation about who of the passengers had done the deed would have taken place, and an unnecessary war would have been prevented. Or maybe not...

A bit of a misnomer? (1)

PinchDuck (199974) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989286)

It seems that "Your right to travel by Jetliner Anonymously" is what's at stake here. Get in to your car, drive from Florida to California, pay cash along the way. *POOF*! You're traveling anonymously!

I.D. on airlines... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989308)

ID on airlines really started being required just after the DB Cooper hijacking in 1971. Prior to that, riding an airplane was just like riding the bus.

After the shenanigans involved in trying to ID the passenger that hijacked Flight 305, most airlines got serious about seeing ID on their passengers.

Note, however, that there has been a slippery slope since then leading to the current state of affairs where boarding a plane is like getting booked into jail.

Get over it! (3, Interesting)

TheLoneCabbage (323135) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989310)

You have to show ID to check out a library book. Just carry your drivers licence and relax!

The FAA has always be a bit on the over cautios side. But the result is the safest form of travel (if not the most cramped) in the world.

I don't know if having to flash ID is quite comprable to having to file with Moscow to travel between cities.

Fly anonymously ? Named tickets (2, Interesting)

TheAcousticMotrbiker (313701) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989328)

For as long as I can remember, airline tickets are personal, meaning that you have not been able to fly anonymously for years.

Having to show an Id to proof that you really are the person you claim to be is only logical.

As other posters have already pointed out, identifying the bodies is another good reason, and while showing an ID will not stop terrorists, it can be a big help in tracing them after the fact (i.e. find their associates and chase them down) which was indeed what happened after 9/11

Figting for your rights and freedom is fine, but this sounds like fighting windmills to me

Timely article... (1)

Glock27 (446276) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989330)

I happened to catch a sound bite on TV last night that the government is trying to tighten up the process to get a driver's license since "all the 9/11 terrorists had valid ID".

The next sentence was along the lines of "this may mean we soon will have a national ID card".

I'm glad we're not letting the terrorists win by changing our way of life. *snort*

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety" - Benjamin Franklin

Not all 9/11 highjackers were fully legal resident (1)

guacamole (24270) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989336)

I believe one or more of them had expired visas. So if requiring IDs could help spot cases like this, I am all for it despite the loss of privacy and such..

Another option (0, Redundant)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989342)

You know, there's another option everyone has available to them to avoid having to show ID when boarding domestic flights.

Don't fly.

The country of liberty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9989353)

It was the country of liberties or only the country of the statue?

"He likes to travel with cocaine mules" (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 10 years ago | (#9989354)


That was one guy's response when I said I liked to take Amtrak whenever practical. If true, they were minding their own business and never gave me any trouble.

I have had to conclude that my fellow Americans are cowards with their SUVs and Patriot Acts. Bullies, but that defining heart of cowardice. Better to kill a 1000 third-world children now than risk the chance that one of them might grow up to be a terrorist -- and on-and-on.

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