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Your Right to Travel Anonymously: Not Dead Yet 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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Your Right to Travel Anonymously: Not Dead Yet

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  • Why else? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by beh ( 4759 ) * on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @06:37AM (#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? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mikael ( 484 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @06:45AM (#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? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bios_Hakr ( 68586 )
      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
      • by Katravax ( 21568 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @08:05AM (#9989580)
        Given the "free speech zones" (a cage within a cage surrounded by barbed wire at the DNC, the "no-protest" areas, and the arrests of people with unpopular opinions), as well as fully tamper-tolerant electronic voting machines, your options are getting narrower.
        • by ifwm ( 687373 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @08:29AM (#9989742) Journal
          Then explain Mike Moore. While I disagree with some of his tactics, he has said numerous unflattering things about extremely powerful people, yet there he is.
          • by RLiegh ( 247921 ) * on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @08:58AM (#9989934) Homepage Journal
            He's there because he can easily be "discredited". You'll notice that there is no-one who is both credible as well as high-profile who is saying anything "unflattering".
            • by dtrent ( 448055 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @09:42AM (#9990357)
              Howard Dean.
          • by brett42 ( 79648 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @09:10AM (#9990029)
            I think the parent was referring to the common sign-waving dissenter rather than the famous documentarian when talking about the disturbing trend of forcing protestors into 'first amendment zones' away from important political events.

            It seems to me that Moore's extreme style, more than his actual messages, are what attract the media. Controversy and spectacle always get attention, but more complex opinions that can't be easily compressed into a soundbite are often seen as boring and easy to ignore.

            Of course, it's hard to make the arguement that excessive security measures around a few events will lead to the complete destruction of free speech, as is demonstrated by the pretty public uproar about the problems with the new voting machines. Also, what's this about arresting people for opinions?

            It's about 3 in the morning here, and I'm not sure if I'm making any sense, so I'll cut myself off here.
      • Re:Why else? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rvega ( 630035 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @08:28AM (#9989729)
        I'll use the soap box

        Like Gilmore is doing? You ought to stand up for him now. What are you waiting for? For the situation to get even worse? To find yourself with even less options at your disposal?

        ballot box

        November's getting closer.

        ammo box

        Well, then you'll be a dead terrorist. You're not going to make an armed resistance against the US Government and live. Or make any difference, for that matter. And don't forget, as a summary of the old saying goes, that by the time they come for you, there will be nobody left to stand up for you. Anybody with the sense to notice the creep of the police state and the guts to try to head it off will be long gone, if the 90% who don't care -- a group you appear to be among -- do not wake up and solve problems while they are still (relatively) small.

        Basically, your stance boils down to apathy, laziness and pessimism. I also find it interesting that, while privacy and personal security are Constitutional rights that are under attack and being eroded yearly, the "important" issues you choose to focus on are all derivative governmental programs and policies. Not quite bread and circuses, but certainly a far cry from our most precious, fundamental rights.

        Incidentally, you also have recourse to the jury box -- the other half of Gilmore's defense.
        • Re:Why else? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Master of Transhuman ( 597628 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @09:21AM (#9990131) Homepage
          Neither the soap box, ballot box, jury box or ammo box is of any value at this time and will only become less so in the future.

          The soap box is buried in the "Society of the Spectacle", the ballot box is rigged by the two-party system, the jury box is rigged by definition - it IS the fucking state, for Christ's sake - and the ammo box is only useful if you can get enough people to take it up - which you can't because the soap box is buried, etc.

          Wait for nanotech and do the job right.

          My prediction: Gilmore is going to LOSE - big time.

        • Re:Why else? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by A55M0NKEY ( 554964 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @09:47AM (#9990408) Homepage Journal
          ammo box
          Well, then you'll be a dead terrorist. You're not going to make an
          armed resistance against the US Government and live.

          No. You can get away with terrorism and live, it's just that so far all the terrorists have been either idiots ( McVeigh ), or only doing terrorism as a means to get their 70 virgins in paradise. ( idiots of another stripe ) They WANTED to die in the act.

          In fact, getting away with terrorism and living over and over again is the basis for what is called guerilla warfare.

          There is no moral reason not to use your individual soveriegnty and wage war against the state for good reason if you think you can win, but unless the general populace is likely to side with you, you have no chance of winning an out and out military victory. However, if everyone were armed with rifles, pistols, shotguns and homemade bombs and booby traps, and all decided not to obey a government - even one as militarily powerful as the US govenrment, then there would be no way for officials of that government to administer the towns and cities without having their heads sniped off. Sure, the government could nuke areas, but if the general populace wanted the government overthrown, nuking all the enemies of the state would leave nothing left to govern.

          Of course there are wackos that die 'defending their compound'. Nobody sides with them because they are nuts. ( If you have a 'compound' you ARE nuts. ) But using the ammo box for real COMMON grievances is not stupid or futile.

          If the US govenrnment were to do drastic things to remove the Soap Box, the Voting/Jury box, or the Ammo box, then that would be a wise time to revolt with whatever of the three means would be most EFFECTIVE. Individuals letting themselves be emasculated of their power is like them giving their lunch money to a bully. If you were a country and a bigger country demanded tribute or else they would attack, then paying it would only weaken you and make them more powerful making the inevitable invasion easier for the invader. It's always best to stand and fight at such a time and hope that others see that siding with the weaker party in a battle is in their own best interest. After all, letting the invasion stand leaves a more bloated potential future enemy ( nations failed to stop Hitler in WWII and his Reich grew to become a bigger problem than if it had been nipped in the bud. )

          When there was a dispute between Kuwait and Saddam over the rights to pump oil from their shared reservoir, Kuwait correctly refused to buckle, and let itself be invaded. Because siding with the weaker party is in every countries best interest, Saddam was pushed back by those from outside, and eventually his entire regime obliterated. The Kuwaitis won in the end.

          Siding with the weaker country leaves the 'rescued' country as a firm ally to the rescuer, and the beligerent country in the power of the allies. These time tested principles for being a sovereign are drawn from 'The Prince' by Machiavelli. Individuals, sovereigns of themselves should take it's lessons to heart.

          The only way a few terrorists with interests counter to those of general populace could get their way would be to manipulate events subtly. A simple method that has been used the world over is to provoke the target regime to make enemies for itself within and abroad by attacking it. The attacks are like a mosquito bite, but the problems the giant creates for itself do it in. This strategy is so simple that it almost fails to qualify as being subtle. Influencing events in more clever ways would probably yeild even more bang for the terrorist buck. "Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum, and I will move the world" - Archemedes A butterfly in Hong Kong could very well cause a hurricane in the carribean.

          The cleverest terrorists may already be fully in control of the world. Their 'attacks' may not be indentified as such. They may be so subtle that they are not even violent or even illegal.

          I say we bomb the Stonecutters.

        • Re:Why else? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by illumin8 ( 148082 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @12:08PM (#9992083) Journal
          ammo box

          Well, then you'll be a dead terrorist. You're not going to make an armed resistance against the US Government and live.

          You know, I was having a conversation with my friend from the UK last week and we were discussing the difference between US and the UK, primarily gun law. I asked him, "What can you do if the government becomes corrupt?" He had a very interesting response:

          "There are other ways you can overthrow a corrupt government besides violence. Imagine what would happen if all of the citizens simply refused to go to work. The government would have to agree with their demands because they don't have enough soldiers to point guns at everyone and force them to do their jobs. The economy would grind to a halt and the government would be thrown out on their ass in a moment's time."

          This got me thinking: Suppose Bush decides to steal the election again in 2004... If this happens, I think one of the safest and best ways we could protest would be to stop going to work for a few weeks. Imagine what would happen...
      • Re:Why else? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Mant ( 578427 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @08:30AM (#9989749) Homepage

        I'm not going to do anything illegal.

        And you trust law enforcement to only ever invade the privacy of those they suspect of doing something illegal? And not, say, people whose politics those in power don't like such as civil rights activists, as they have historically done?

      • Re:Why else? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Master of Transhuman ( 597628 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @09:33AM (#9990270) Homepage
        "1. I'm not going to do anything illegal."

        Yes, you are - you just don't know it yet, because the law hasn't been passed.

        More likely, you probably are already doing something illegal - you just haven't had a cop inform you of the particular one of the millions of statutes in this country that you regularly violate without being aware of it. DO something he doesn't approve of (whether it is illegal or not) and you will then be informed of *some* law you are violating. React to the obvious injustice and you'll do time for "resisting arrest" and "interfering with an officer."

        Your number 2 point is brain-dead. Nothing related to "paper checking" is going to stop any professional terrorist for an instant. Granted, most of these clowns aren't terribly professional, but anybody in the business will have any number of sources of perfectly adequate ID and cover stories. A good terrorist will waltz right through a check that would hang you up merely for technicalities (your papers aren't *quite* in order because your local state moron screwed them up - the terrorist's forger won't screw his up.)

        Your third point is completely oblivious. You choose to focus on one issue - airplane privacy - and ignore the overall effects of repeated invasions of civil liberties on all levels. Meanwhile, you focus on issues involving sucking at the tit of government (education, health care) or which are never ever going to be changed (campaign finances) as long as politicians can draw breath.

        In other words, you're just another American sucker.

        You probably think we invaded Iraq to bring democracy to the Iraqis and safeguard America from those evil Iraqi terrorists, too, right?

        A product of the American educational system.

        No clue.

        • Re:Why else? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Bios_Hakr ( 68586 ) <> on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @10:35AM (#9991008)
          Why are people on here so frictional? You got modded as insightful, but all you do is flame me.

          In any event...

          You are right about point 1. Everyone is doing something illegal right now. What you want is privacy so cops can't call you on it. What I want is better politicians willing to get rid of stupid laws. Lack of privacy is just a symptom of a bigger problem. We need campaign finance reform. Once we have good politicians, we can work on the smaller things.

          Point 2. The point isn't to stop a terrorist. You can't do that! Ever! The point is to have a good paper train back to his funding. Then you assasinate the man with the money. The next guy with money MAY have second thoughts. Sure, there will always be some way around having an ID card. Let's try and make that system better. We need a way to track people from the time they enter the country till they leave. This won't be a problem as long as we can trust those in office. We can trust those in office if we know they are working for us vice Disney/Exxon-Mobil.

          As for point 3, I think it's valid. I hate giving my Drivers License to a hotel clerk. I fly a lot more than most. In fact, I was due to fly internationally on Sep 12. I spent an extra 3 weeks overseas because of terrorism. I really hate having to show my ID and have my bags searched 5 times between the curb and the gate. I know it adds nothing to security. However, as much as I travel, it's still a small hastle. If the voters would focus on finance reform, we could take care of a much larger hastle. Choose your battles and only fight the important ones. We can get election reforms as long as we fight hard and under the same banner. Abortion, prayer, school vouchers, privacy, health care; these are all side issues to keep us distracted from the fact that our representatives take millions of dollars in bribes.

          Who is the sucker? I can join with my enemies to fight the good fight. Could you?

          We invaded Iraq so that GWB could get more money. How is your not showing an ID card gonna stop that?

          I was educated in public school. I still have a valid point: All the privacy in the world does not fix your politicians.

          I do have a clue. It just seems that I'm choosing to fight a much more important fight.

          BTW, don't be so quick to flame. Take a breath before you hit 'submit'. We are all on the same side here.
      • Re:Why else? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Mateito ( 746185 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @09:44AM (#9990374) Homepage

        You aren't doing anything illegal? Are you sure? By the time you choose to "stop", you have already been tried, found guilty and charged or fined.

        Laws are so complicated, chances are you are doing something illegal without relizing it. And, despite that a Lawyer needs 7 years of post-graduate training, for the layman, ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it

        One example:

        Sex toys are illegal in Texas.

        Now, personally, I have no problem with anybody popping a Mr Buzzy into any handy orifice if that's what gets them off, but its appears to be a problem in Bush's home state. Maybe there's something in the Bible about it. No idea.

        Sure, you aren't going to bomb a plane, or extort a million dollars.

        There are already toll-roads who will fine you if the time you took between the entry and exit implies that you sped. You were never detected actually speeding, and you can easily get around it by stopping off at a gas station and drinking a coffee.

        But, hey, suddenly you get a letter in the mail for jaywalking, because there was no legal way you could have made the trip between two sidewalk monitoring points without having crossed the road illegally.

        Then you go to jail for buying a vibrator in New Mexico and then driving to Lousiana. You must have passed through Texas, right?

        Extreme example, but if big-brother is watching you, any little seemingly unimportant infraction becomes revenue for the government.

        Realize that if you are focused on 20 different things, not a single one will ever get done

        I'm so glad you don't work for me. Take a time management course.

      • Re:Why else? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LaCosaNostradamus ( 630659 ) <LaCosaNostradamu ... m ['mai' in gap]> on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @10:40AM (#9991064) Journal
        I'm not going to do anything illegal.

        You break the law constantly. There are far too many laws on the books to avoid criminality. Traffic law is notorious for this. I have a friend who's a cop. Occasionally when we are driving along he'll point out how many people he can pull over and ticket. On the highway in modest traffic, that translates into about 1 person every 30 seconds ... and that's just within the radius of 1 travelling car. All it takes is a split second or an inch of play in the movement of your vehicle, over a line or by a line on the road, and then your just another dirty, lawbreaking motherfucker who deserves to be punished. Right?

        When you have more law, you have less justice. If we pass enough laws, everyone becomes a criminal. The wise man knows that criminals are primarily made by the legislature, and exercises restraint when empowering the legal system.

        As for terrorism ... we have plenty of law enforcement to get terrorists. But as FBI whistleblowers demonstrate, law enforcement is constantly under poitical pressure to avoid investigation of certain families, even racial/national groups. For example, Saudi Arabians are still being handled with kid gloves. You DO know that 14 of the nineteen 9-11 hijackers were Saudis, don't you? Shit, it seems that half of polled America thinks 9-11 was an Iraqi operation.
  • by Dr Reducto ( 665121 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @06:41AM (#9989178) Journal
    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.
    • 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...
    • by WormholeFiend ( 674934 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @06:47AM (#9989205)
      Losing freedoms seems to be a one way street

      Remember 1789?

      (hint: it happened in France and involved guillotines)
    • by ratamacue ( 593855 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @08:41AM (#9989808)
      a government can never take away your rights, they can only chose to not honor them

      Precisely. Rights are not something that you are "given" by those in power (like a gift), or something that you have to "earn" or "win". The truth is exactly the opposite: Human rights are derived from human nature. We are *born* with rights, because it is human nature that gives us those rights, not government. We have evolved as unique, thinking individuals, but at the same time we have evolved to work together in groups for mutual benefit. The only way to interact with other unique individuals, and retain mutual benefit, is to respect the natural rights of other individuals. There is no "list" of rights, nor could there ever possibly be a list. The very notion of enumerating rights implies that freedom will be limited to somebody's arbitrary idea of how people should behave. This requires an initiation of force. The initiation of force is the only mode of human interaction that violates our natural rights.

      We are born free, and from there our rights can only be limited. No soldier has ever died to "earn" or "win" those rights. They died to *preserve* the rights that have been with us since the day mother nature gave us the intelligence to respect each other as unique, thinking individuals.

      • by kinbote ( 100263 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @10:32AM (#9990972) Homepage

        As expressed by Utah Phillips:

        "Freedom is something you assume, then you wait for someone to try to take it away. The degree to which you resist is the degree to which you are free."

  • Ho Hum (Score:5, Insightful)

    by turgid ( 580780 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @06:42AM (#9989186) Journal
    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.

    • Re:Ho Hum (Score:5, Insightful)

      by beh ( 4759 ) * on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @06:48AM (#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 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Epistax ( 544591 ) <epistax@gmai l . com> on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @07:29AM (#9989396) Journal
      Out of everything there exists to ID someone over, transportation makes the most sense to me. Without some sort of identification, the names on tickets suddenly become worthless and you haven't a clue who is on any given plane that takes off, lands, or crashes. I'm taking a couple flights home. If one crashes, I think my parents will at least be happy that they'll know to almost 100% certainty whether I'm on it in the case of a crash. If there was no IDing, they wouldn't have any idea, and might not for several days.

      That being said the fact that I just mentioned I am going on a plane today and mentioned the fact that it could crash-- that everything I just said is a red flag to them-- THAT is wrong. Yes personal security through obscurity (Who am I?) would protect you from that, but your own civic duty supersedes that which should not even be an issue.
      • Re:Ho Hum (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mec ( 14700 ) <> on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @08:01AM (#9989552) Journal
        Well, fine. Nobody's suggesting that the airlines forbid you from flying under your real name, so that your family is notified if your plane crashes. Your choice.

        However, many political activists have also been screened out of commercial airline flight. Google for "tsa political activist" and read the stories yourself. Or here is a representative story:

        No-fly blacklist snares political activists []

        John Gilmore wants to travel to Washington, DC to petition his government. Maybe I want to fly out to Las Vegas for the next DefCon without getting into a FBI database. Maybe you want to fly to a WTO meeting or a political convention, either to attend or to protest.

        Of course, you can come back and say "the airlines have a security interest in knowing the identity of their customers". I acknowledge that. Perhaps that overrides the liberty of passengers to travel anonymously; perhaps not. However, that's different from your desire to declare your name. You can choose to declare your name, for your own reasons, without stomping on other's people's rights not to declare theirs.
      • Re:Ho Hum (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Threni ( 635302 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @08:26AM (#9989721)
        > If one crashes, I think my parents will at least be happy that they'll know to
        > almost 100% certainty whether I'm on it in the case of a crash. If there was no
        > IDing, they wouldn't have any idea, and might not for several days.

        Your mothers uncertainty is a price that i'm prepared to pay. You can just tell her which flights you're taking if you're bothered - there's no way to opt out of a surveillance society.
      • Re:Ho Hum (Score:4, Funny)

        by eples ( 239989 ) * on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @09:20AM (#9990124)
        If there was no IDing, they wouldn't have [...]

        Is this a new product from Apple? How do I get it?
      • Re:Ho Hum (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Bob Uhl ( 30977 ) <> on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @10:53AM (#9991224) Homepage
        Why should a ticket even carry a name? When I go to the theatre, my ticket hasn't a name on it. A few years back, airline tickets had an optional form on the reverse which permitted one to identify oneself if one wishes (additionally, most folks already do travel with ID).

        Why should anyone be forced to carry papers to travel? The next step is to confiscate someone's papers so that he cannot travel.

        What's the stereotypical German railway station scene in a WWII film? There are the guards asking for people's papers; there are the guards patrolling with dogs. Well, when I flew a month ago I was forced to show ID, and there were dogs patrolling the aeroport.

        My great uncle died on Iwo Jima to keep this country free; my brother, father, grandfather and great-grandfather have all served in wartime to keep this country free. Millions of other brave men have done the same. So why the hell is it getting less free every year?

        Not that I fault either major party more than the other: they are both to blame, because they are run by the populace, and the vast majority of the electorate are sheep who are willing to trade all their liberty for the temporary illusion of safety.

    • Re:Ho Hum (Score:4, Interesting)

      by r00zky ( 622648 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @07:42AM (#9989458)
      to help identify the corpses

      Sir, you should refer to the Yakolev-42 accident which caused the death of 62 spanish militars the 26th of May of 2003 (which surely were carrying identifications... being in the military)

      One year later, the buried corpses had to undergo DNA tests to correctly identify them.
      Something that the ones incinerated by the wrong familiars couldn't do...

      Half of the corpses were found to be misidentified in the first place.
  • To identify... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pixas ( 711468 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @06:43AM (#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.
  • by paganizer ( 566360 ) <.moc.liamtoh. .ta. .1evorgeht.> on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @06:45AM (#9989193) Homepage Journal
    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.

    • by the_twisted_pair ( 741815 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @07:03AM (#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.

    • by dnoyeb ( 547705 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @07:30AM (#9989402) Homepage Journal
      If they required ID to fly in a private plane, or ride as a passenger in a auto, I would bitch very loudly.

      Which are the public planes?
    • by HeghmoH ( 13204 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @07:43AM (#9989464) Homepage Journal
      There is just too much chance of 1 person being able to cause harm to a large number of other people.

      You don't need an airliner to kill a couple of hundred people. A truck filled with ammonium nitrate does just fine. You can get close with a bunch of explosives guns on your person, as is demonstrated in Israel on a regular basis.

      And before you jump in with the "almost 3000" figure from 9/11, that was a one-time event. Airline passengers are never going to sit still for a hijacking again. The largest possible loss of life is still the passengers plus whoever the airplane accidentally lands on when it crashes.
  • by MBAFK ( 769131 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @06:45AM (#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 [] is an example.
    • Bingo! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ColourlessGreenIdeas ( 711076 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @07:19AM (#9989357)
      You've spotted the reason for all this; it's to prevent a trade in non-transferrable tickets. As well as absurd RyanAir offers, returns cost about the same as singles everywhere, so they want to prevent a trade in return-leg tickets. And of course they want to do it for 'security reasons' so the inconvenience isn't their fault and is all for your benefit.

      Of course it doesn't really affect security.
  • Its not a conspiracy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bshellenberg ( 779684 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @06:48AM (#9989207) Homepage
    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.
  • ID's (Score:5, Insightful)

    by l3v1 ( 787564 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @06:49AM (#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 :)

  • simple solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HBI ( 604924 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @06:50AM (#9989223) Journal
    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 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @07:00AM (#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 (Score:5, Interesting)

        by poot_rootbeer ( 188613 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @12:46PM (#9992471)
        The current airline system just wasn't designed for the volume of users it currently has.

        It's not the volume of users that's the problem; it's the volume of aircrafts.

        I remember taking airline trips from Newark to St. Louis twenty years ago, and the plane would be a 747 or some other jumbo jet, seating maybe nine people across, with two aisles splitting the seats up.

        If I make that same trip today, I'd probably be flying on the jet equivalent of a puddle-jumper -- a tiny craft with fewer seats than a Greyhound bus
        and a single narrow aisle.

        People want the option to catch a flight to their destination at 5:30 AM, or 11:30PM, or at any two-hour interval in between. So the airlines have moved towards more frequent flights on smaller aircraft... and this has come to create an air traffic nightmare over time.
    • Re:simple solution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 ) * on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @07:06AM (#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 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Gannoc ( 210256 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @09:12AM (#9990054)
      I don't fly unless absolutely positively there is no other way to get to there from here in a reasonable time frame.

      Hehehe. Go Brother!. I'm also against the killing of dolphins by tuna fishermen, so I absolutely refuse to eat tuna. Unless i'm like, REALLY in the mood for it.

  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @06:54AM (#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.
  • Contacting Family. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jellomizer ( 103300 ) * on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @06:55AM (#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.)
  • by RWarrior(fobw) ( 448405 ) * on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @07:01AM (#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.
  • by Buzh ( 74397 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @07:02AM (#9989273) Homepage
    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.
  • by SetupWeasel ( 54062 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @07:24AM (#9989381) Homepage
    Last I checked, every car I've ever driven or ridden in has had plate identifying it, and many blacks in this country have dealt with cops pulling them over IN CARS for no reason other than their skin color for many years. They ask for ID every time they do, but the car had some form of ID on it anyway.

    This isn't new, it's just happening on planes to white people. You are about 100 years too late to stop it.
  • by Elvisisdead ( 450946 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @07:29AM (#9989398) Homepage Journal
    Who's there?

    Zee German Inspector.

    The German Inspector w.....


    Insert appropriate agency personnel for the inspector.
  • by Mickey Jameson ( 3209 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @07:39AM (#9989447)
    While the airports may now require ID, it's primarily for show. In the 6 round trip flights and ID checked 12 times, not once did my ID match my flight information and not once did anyone even question anything.

    I generally leave it up to friends to book my flights because I don't care what airline/airport I fly into and out of but they do. So for a wedding in North Carolina in 1999, the friend put down "Crackpipe Johnny" as my name while booking. I chuckled until we actually got to the airport because I didn't know how they'd react. Instead of showing my ID, I showed my Zippo which had Crackpipe Johnny emblazoned on it. "Ok sir, go right through."

    Since then it's been a running joke and even post-9/11 Crackpipe Johnny has had no problem booking a flight or boarding a plane.

    I wouldn't recommend trying this, but until someone tells me to stop doing so, I will continue to do so. Just because someone says something is so (in this case mandatory ID carrying) isn't reason to freak out.
  • by ssclift ( 97988 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @07:43AM (#9989465)

    If you have to present ID that matches the name on the ticket then you cannot resell the ticket. It used to be the case that people would resell tickets they couldn't use. Now, depending on the type of ticket you didn't use, your money is either gone, locked in an airline account with one year to spend it on another ticket, back in your hands less 25%, or some other such "arrangement".

    The airlines fight tooth and nail to prevent the expense of new "security" measures. If one is accepted it usually means that someone, somewhere is making solid profit on the scheme.

  • What a question. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Beautyon ( 214567 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @07:47AM (#9989482) Homepage
    "How did this happen?"

    Read any slashdot thread about ID cards, biometrics and the new passports they are trying to issue. Some of the people who post here, who really should know better because they can READ, are aplolgists for all of these techniques and technologies.

    The number of times that I have read "i dont have a problem with it as long as"...that is how we have arrived at this juncture; people who should know better are apathetic, compliant or simply asleep. Then you have the morons who whip out the "Tin Hat" jibe whenever someone posts that a Totalitarian state is being built right in front of your eyes; they are also a part of the reason why these measures can be introduced without even a fight.

    That question is really quite astonishing; "how we got here" is right in front of you, and has been for three years. It isnt too late to turn it all around; the "joined up government" isnt joined up yet. If you are not willing to use this place to solve the problem (and by the tone of this question, I am presuming that you DO think its a bad thing) then don't even ask; its completely infuriating.

    By "use this place" I mean consistently promote the FIPR [], Privacy International [], No2ID [] and the other organizations that are trying to orgainze resistance to these measures both in USUK.

    If you are not willing to do this, then accept what is being done to you and your country quietly. This should be one of the loudest places screaming against these measures, not somewhere where once in a while, we get a single stunned question.
  • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @08:44AM (#9989821) Homepage
    Although it does smack of show me your papers, I don't think that's the main issue. What the court is looking at is the executive branch issuing secret regulations that are not reviewable by the courts.

    Privacy is becoming much more important in the age of identity theft. I went around with a cell phone provider on a service quote because I wouldn't give them my social security number. I tried to explain to them if I'm not claiming income from them, they don't get my social security number. First they said it was the law but once I questioned them about which law they backed off to it being company policy. The dentist office tried to claim the insurance company requires it, but all they really need is your group policy number and employee ID.

  • by mwillems ( 266506 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @11:20AM (#9991555) Homepage
    Last month, while travelling to Amsterdam my briefcase was stolen at the airport and I lost all my ID. Everything. Money, Credit cards, driver's license, passports, social insurance card, tickets - everything.

    It was an eye-opener. NO-ONE can do anything for you. Amex ($400 a year platinum card with "concierge service") would not send me a new card because I had no ID. The cops would not initially write a report because you need to show ID. A new passport at the Canadian embassy was very difficult when you have no ID and have lost your citizenship certificate as well (though they were helpful). Try to check into a hotel without credit cards or ID - it cannot be done. Try to rent a car - same. Try to buy lunch. Nope. If I had not had a support network in place (relatives living there) I would have slept in the street.

    The moral of all this: nice to have ID at the basis of everything, but just wait until you slip off the road.

    Not sure anyone would want to go through what I went through in that week. Before you say "normal people should have nothing to fear from having to show ID" - wait until you lose it.

  • by KillerCow ( 213458 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @03:38PM (#9994403)
    How mandatory ID even prevents terrorist attacks is also not clear to me; all the 9/11 hijackers had valid government-issued ID.

    Showing ID does nothing to enhance security. We know that IDs can be easily faked, or secured by bribing officials, and that having a valid ID does not prove that you wont do something bad. The problem is that for this to enhance security, the airlines need an "I will not do something bad" card to determine the intentions of their passengers. ID cards are not it.

    The airlines put on this theatre though, since it solves a business problem of theirs. Namely, it prevents people from reselling tickets. If you have to show ID to get on a plane, and that ID has to match the name on the ticket, you can't buy a ticket from someone who doesn't want it anymore. Therefore, you have to buy a new ticket from the airline, so the airline gets more revenue. So, the airlines use ID checks to ensure that tickets can't be resold, and they explain it to the public as "enhancing security" which it isn't.

The rich get rich, and the poor get poorer. The haves get more, the have-nots die.