Steve G.

Surprise — your privacy is even more compromised than you thought

In Civil Liberties on June 25, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Apparently, one may still travel by air without ID, if the TSA is convinced that the ID is lost, and you’re willing to undergo egregious privacy violations.  Consumerist reports on one traveler’s experience:

After filling out the affidavit, Laurie called a service to verify my address. The service needed me to then correctly answer three questions about myself, which Laurie relayed to me. The first was my date of birth, the second was a previous address (which I only got right on my second try), and the third was “You are registered to vote. Which political party have you registered with?” I got all three right, and only then did Laurie clear me to go through security.

Of course, I still had to submit to secondary screening, including a full-body pat-down and total luggage search. Brenda and Laurie stayed with me to make sure the process went as quickly as possible, and were again incredibly helpful and nice. They kept explaining over and over how necessary it was to “verify” who I was, and how times have changed, and how these new regulations must have been as a result of someone trying to get away with something, because there’s always a reason for these thing but they don’t always know what those reasons are. They were so nice and considerate that I waited until the very end before I finally said that I do not agree with the new regulations, but that I was thankful that the two of them acted so professionally and considerately to me. Laurie actually seemed a little dejected when I said this, because I had been playing along the entire time out of fear that I would not appear cooperative otherwise.

I can only imagine what the reaction would be if one answered “Libertarian” or “Green” — especially in states where those parties aren’t “officially recognized.”

One also has to marvel at the amount of sophisticated data that the so-called “service” has collected about travelers.  More than likely, the information is gleaned from credit records — a situation where one in four individuals has serious errors on “their” file.

This makes the cozy relationship between government and data collection companies a lot clearer.  The next time you make a purchase, buy a car, apply for a loan, or go on vacation, your transaction will be reported — possibly inaccurately — into the government’s database.  And if you seek to sue the big corporate credit bureaus for torts such as libel (inaccurately publishing damaging information), you’ll run head-long into federal laws protecting those bureaus from liability.

This cozy corporate-government privacy-busting superstate reminds me of a quote from Italian dictator Benito Mussolini: “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”

In the new American Security State, you are always under suspicion.  Your innocence is never accepted, your guilt, if asserted, never need be proven.  And both big government and big business are working together to ensure your liberties get traded in for their profit.

  1. Yep, we sorely need an airline where anyone can walk right on board carrying anything at all.

  2. Yep, we do need exactly that Roscoe. I keep telling my husband that I’d like to open exactly that. We wouldn’t need too much- a network of liberty minded people who have some land to use as airstrips, some decent pilots who border on libertarian or anarchist in their political views and some small planes.

    Of course, considering that one can’t even use his Honda to taxi passengers for fare without running afoul of the law, it isn’t likely to happen anytime soon. But who knows, maybe I can figure it out soon and instead of buying another one of these, I’ll buy this and start flying again.

  3. If only we can catch planes at places other than at airports.

  4. Surely, Roscoe, there’s a middle ground between “no security screening at all” and “a giant federal database of your every transaction and move, monitored and updated 24/7 by corporations that have special rights to violate tort law.”

  5. Yeah, it’s “let the commercial carriers set their own security rules, publicize them, and welcome the flying public.” Too lax, and they’d have one heck of a time getting any insurer to cover them, any leasor to provide planes, and any air crew to risk their lives. Too strict, and only the masochistic would show up.

  6. Of course, government “security” didn’t prevent the 9/11 hijackings, nor did it prevent the near-successful London bottle bomb attacks of a couple of years back.

    A government data-mining superstate has no relationship to aviation security at all. A government database knowing when I buy a car, or what political party I am registered with, or what my credit score or bank or brokerage is, has utterly no relationship to aviation security.

  7. [quote] Brian Miller Says:
    Surely, Roscoe, there’s a middle ground between “no security screening at all” and “a giant federal database of your every transaction and move, monitored and updated 24/7 by corporations that have special rights to violate tort law.”[quote]

    Well there’s always the L. Neil Smith approach – (see “Probability Broach”, among others) – Belly up to the (privately owned) security counter, show your peice, and demonstrate that the ammo has been certified (by a private agency) to be non-hazardous to standard airframe materials… (I.E. Mostly frangible rounds) No problem w/ punching holes in ill intentioned passengers, but it is considered unacceptable to risk damaging the aircraft in doing so… Seems reasonable to me, and certainly would have prevented 9/11

    ART

  8. If only we can catch planes at places other than at airports.

    If I am correctly understanding you, you mean conventional airports like O’Hare and DFW. If that’s indeed what you mean, we can already catch planes at different places. I haven’t pulled out my AOPA airport directory in a while but I remember there being nearly 700 pages of airports to fly from and most weren’t what you are thinking. In fact, many were barely a runway and many didn’t even have a tower or FBO. Of course, catching a flight from one of those would require additional effort, money and planning.

  9. Now you know why I drive everywhere I can instead of fly–it’s a bunch of BS figthing the wrong battles.

    Last time I flew, I picked up a dog in Texas to return it to CA. When I arrived in Austin I immediately talked to the airline and sked what their procedure was for this since I had never done it before (Amazing how the “Help me out here, this is new to be and I don’t understand it” approach works so well, even if in this case it was true!). They explained what I had to do when I came back for check-in etc., crate requiremetns, all of that. Then I found a TSA agent and asked him the same question. He was going on his lunch break so I bought him lunch and sat down with him and asked him what they did with this and what to expect–same approach. Both times they were pleasant and happy to explain it–I think they might have found that to be a change from the norm of the usual unhappy cattle.

    On the way back in, no problems with the airline, even with a Denver transfer, which I oversaw from the terminal windows, and no problem with TSA either since I has an idea of what was coming.

    The only reason I went through that rigamarole was because of A) timing on the time off, and B) I had to go to New York first on personal business. Take out B) and I would have just made the 2-day drive instead.

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