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How I Got Through Airport Security with No I.D.
The Daily Beast ^ | Nov 25, 2008 | Anita L. Allen

Posted on 02/23/2013 7:37:06 PM PST by null and void

Thanks to Google Earth and puzzling new TSA rules, all you need to know to get on a plane these days is the color of your house. Traveling for the holidays? No need to fear missing your plane because you’ve lost your government issued I.D.! You can fly without it—as long as you know the color of your house.

A few weeks ago I lost my wallet, or maybe it was stolen. But I had to fly from Los Angeles to San Francisco, and I didn’t have a single piece of identification—no passport, driver’s license, credit card, work I.D., nothing.

When I got to LAX, I approached the uniformed Transportation Security Administration agent nearest the entrance to the security screening area. She had the power to ruin my day, and we both knew it. But I was sweet, and she was only slightly superior in return.

I was really happy to get on that plane that day. But I wasn’t thrilled to learn that instant access to satellite images is a government tool of airport identification.

“Do you have anything?” she asked. “A library card? A bill addressed to you at your home?”

I shook my head from side to side, pitifully.

The agent summoned the supervisor. He carried a clipboard and something that looked like a cross between a World War II-era walkie-talkie and a 1990s cellphone.

“Please write your name and address on this form,” he said. “Then I have to make a call. The gentleman I call will ask you a series of questions to help us verify your identify.”

I filled out the form super-neatly, so I wouldn’t seem like a nervous terrorist, and the supervisor placed a call on his phone-a-ma-jig to an intentionally unidentified person who I came to think of as the Voice.

The Voice spoke to me directly. “Have you ever lived in the Washington, D.C., area?” the Voice inquired. “Yes, a number of years ago,” I said. “Do you now live in a gated community?” asked the Voice. My neighborhood isn’t technically gated, but there’s only one road in and out, so I answered, “Yes.” That was the right answer.

The final question from the Voice, the one that got me through the backscatter machine, past the shoe swipe-o-meter and onto the plane, was a stunning surprise: “What color is your house?”

“Green,” I told the Voice, who then asked me to hand the phone back to the supervisor. The supervisor and the Voice then began chatting about how nice my house was.

By chance, when I got back home, I had an email waiting for me from Mr. Peter E. Sand, director of privacy technology at the US Department of Homeland Security in Washington. He was inquiring about a book I’d written. I quickly emailed him back about my experience at LAX. How did they know the color of my house? Why did they ask me that? Sand volunteered to put my questions to someone who might know the answer.

That person turned out to be Peter Pietra, the director of privacy policy and compliance at TSA. This was Pietra’s exact reply: “[Y]ou are not allowed to fly unless you can present acceptable I.D. to match up with your boarding pass. Because we know this can be a problem for people who've lost/forgotten I.D. or may not have acceptable I.D., we developed a process to help passengers who want help by using a variety of ways to try to verify that the person standing at the checkpoint without I.D. is actually the person on the boarding pass. While this typically involves asking questions from commercial databases like Lexis-Nexis or Choicepoint, sometimes they will try to look the address up on Google Earth and see if there are questions they can ask that someone at that address should be able to know. (What is a cross street, is there a park across the street, etc.) To get the house color I assume the house must have a photo on Google Earth or some similar website.”

The idea that an airport official can tell me the color of my house as a favor to me when I lose my wallet is a bit disconcerting. I was really happy to get on that plane that day. But I wasn’t thrilled to learn that instant access to satellite images is a government tool of airport identification. It feels invasive. And does knowing the color of my house really prove that I am me, anyway?

I could almost accept government use of invasive-feeling technologies if such technology were used consistently, by all levels of government, without infringing on civil liberties. But although the government sometimes makes scarily efficient use of technology, it sometimes does the opposite by failing to make use of technology, with terrible consequences for personal freedom.

Here is a case in point. Last month, my nephew’s house was robbed. (He lives in Atlanta and I think his house is yellow.) The thief stole electronic toys, computers, and televisions. My frantic nephew called the police to report the crime. When they arrived, they asked my nephew his name, and of course he told them. They placed him under arrest.

The police claimed my nephew was wanted in Tennessee for drug offenses. My nephew has a fairly common name, and when they heard it, the police arrested him and dragged him to jail, leaving his wife and four children behind in a state of shocked disbelief.

One would have thought that big-city police would have electronic access to arrest records, photographs, fingerprints, and other information. They should be able to clear up a case of mistaken identity speedily. But my nephew sat in the Fulton County jail for two days. It took two whole days for a judge to order him set free.

Get the irony? It took two minutes for TSA to determine to its satisfaction that I was the lady who lived in the green house in Pennsylvania. But it took two days for a big-city police department to determine that a man, a crime victim, found inside his own family home was in fact who he said he was, and not some guy with a similar name from Ohio wanted for selling dope in Tennessee.

Proof again that technology is only as good as the people who use it—or refuse to use it.


TOPICS:
KEYWORDS: airportsecurity; id; noid; tsa
Old article I just encountered today.
1 posted on 02/23/2013 7:37:12 PM PST by null and void
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To: null and void
So if I were a motivational speaker who lived in a van down by the river, could they tell me my license plate number?

I guess I'd be hosed if I lived in a cardboard box under a freeway overpass.

-PJ

2 posted on 02/23/2013 7:44:10 PM PST by Political Junkie Too (If you are the Posterity of We the People, then you are a Natural Born Citizen.)
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To: null and void
The government has rules and regulations for everything. You are violating some kind of law right now. If the government wants to be nice, they can be nice. The TSA was nice in the story just posted. If the government wants to exert power, it will exert power. The local police wanted to flex their muscles in the story just posted.

It's the Floyd Ferris thing from Atlas Shrugged. They don't make laws because they want you to follow them. They make laws so that you break them, and then they have grounds to control you. They just don't do it in a mean way 100% of the time. Yet.

3 posted on 02/23/2013 7:45:18 PM PST by ClearCase_guy (Nothing will change until after the war.)
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To: null and void

What would you do wifout me, hmmmmm???????????????


4 posted on 02/23/2013 7:46:18 PM PST by Shimmer1 (No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.)
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To: null and void

I’ve been to Holland, Germany, Belgium, France more than a few times, but have never used a passport, or even owned one before or during those travels.


5 posted on 02/23/2013 7:46:41 PM PST by ansel12 (Romney is a longtime supporter of homosexualizing the Boy Scouts (and the military).)
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To: null and void
i'd be screwed then since you can't see my house on GE because of tree cover... guess it's a good thing i don't fly commercial anymore
6 posted on 02/23/2013 7:47:44 PM PST by Chode (Stand UP and Be Counted, or line up and be numbered - *DTOM* -ww- NO Pity for the LAZY)
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To: ansel12

Military ID?


7 posted on 02/23/2013 7:49:13 PM PST by null and void (Gun confiscation enables tyranny. Don't enable tyranny.)
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To: ClearCase_guy

Nailed it. I may steal that entire post are re-post it some day, several some days.


8 posted on 02/23/2013 7:50:34 PM PST by null and void (Gun confiscation enables tyranny. Don't enable tyranny.)
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To: Shimmer1

I hope to never have to find out.


9 posted on 02/23/2013 7:51:20 PM PST by null and void (Gun confiscation enables tyranny. Don't enable tyranny.)
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To: null and void

Don’t blame the government, blame Google Street View.


10 posted on 02/23/2013 7:55:03 PM PST by Yo-Yo
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To: null and void

LOL, yes, but it really stumps a lot of people.


11 posted on 02/23/2013 7:59:30 PM PST by ansel12 (Romney is a longtime supporter of homosexualizing the Boy Scouts (and the military).)
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To: null and void
A few months ago I was crossing into the US from Quebec and the US immigration guy was having a bad day so he decided to give me a hard time.He told me that he thought I was up to something so he asked many questions.When I told him I was retired from health care administration he asked me "where's the Mayo Clinic?".Anyone with knowledge of health care knows where it is and I responded "Rochester,Minnesota".At that point I guess he came to believe me and let me through without searching me or my car (I was clean...but I didn't want the hassle).
12 posted on 02/23/2013 7:59:39 PM PST by Gay State Conservative ("Progressives" toss the word "racist" around like chimps toss their feces)
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To: null and void

The article is kind of batty.

Anyone can determine the color of any house they have an address for using itouchmap.com.

You can also get the geodetic coordinates of the center of the lot there. If you wish to know the NAVD88 elevation, just click on the “terrain” button.


13 posted on 02/23/2013 8:04:45 PM PST by editor-surveyor (Freepers: Not as smart as I'd hoped they'd be)
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To: editor-surveyor

Yep. You weren’t expecting them to let actual security interfere with the TSA Kabuki theater were you?


14 posted on 02/23/2013 8:11:21 PM PST by null and void (Gun confiscation enables tyranny. Don't enable tyranny.)
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To: null and void

“How did they know the color of my house?”

Google Maps Street View. Got address? house color in about 10 seconds.


15 posted on 02/23/2013 8:12:48 PM PST by ctdonath2 (3% of the population perpetrates >50% of homicides...but gun control advocates blame metal boxes.)
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To: null and void

Hope springs eternal.


16 posted on 02/23/2013 8:15:08 PM PST by editor-surveyor (Freepers: Not as smart as I'd hoped they'd be)
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To: null and void

A few years ago, NJ didn’t have picture ID on the driver’s licenses. It was just a card with the usual info on it, but no pic. I was in Denver visiting my daughter and was in a supermarket. I tried to use a traveler’s check to pay for the purchase. Fine. But when they asked for my ID and saw no picture, they wouldn’t cash it.

I spoke to the manager who asked me if I had any other form of ID on me. Then it dawned on me!! I had recently been in China for 6 weeks — studying the language and had to have a special ID while there.And it had my picture on it -— however everything on the card was in Chinese! I explained it to the manager and she looked at it and at me and laughingly said OK! LOL!


17 posted on 02/23/2013 8:26:26 PM PST by Exit148
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To: null and void

Off-white house. 2 stories. Circular driveway. Red SUV.

Took a few minutes with only her name.
Using only my smartphone.


18 posted on 02/23/2013 8:26:52 PM PST by ctdonath2 (3% of the population perpetrates >50% of homicides...but gun control advocates blame metal boxes.)
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To: null and void

With all of the security and screening there is no reason they should even need to know our names. The only reason for the ID must be to track where we go.


19 posted on 02/23/2013 8:45:07 PM PST by Dennis M.
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To: null and void

I hope the nephew sued the Atlanta police for false arrest and imprisonment.


20 posted on 02/23/2013 8:45:44 PM PST by july4thfreedomfoundation (November 6, 2012.....A day that will live in infamy!)
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To: Political Junkie Too
"I guess I'd be hosed if I lived in a cardboard box under a freeway overpass."

If that cardboard box has a recycle symbol on it or had packaged an energy efficient appliance, I'm sure you'll sail or fly right through. Just make sure to note which freeway you're under.

21 posted on 02/23/2013 8:47:06 PM PST by 1_Rain_Drop
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To: ClearCase_guy

Which is why I maintain that there really are few law-abiding citizens just many peaceable ones....at the moment.


22 posted on 02/23/2013 9:39:37 PM PST by yadent
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To: ansel12

What did customs/immigration/border patrol have to say about it; what document did you have on hand to show them it was OK for you to enter the u.s.?


23 posted on 02/23/2013 10:04:15 PM PST by WildHighlander57 ((WildHighlander57 returning after lurking since 2000))
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To: ctdonath2

It wasn’t green??!!??


24 posted on 02/23/2013 10:06:48 PM PST by WildHighlander57 ((WildHighlander57 returning after lurking since 2000))
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To: ClearCase_guy

ClearCase_guy: “They make laws so that you break them, and then they have grounds to control you.”

Some people want laws broken for monetary (red light camera fines, asset forfeiture in drug cases, etc) or other reasons, but it seems highly improbable that that is the primary motive for most law. It seems far more likely that most laws are simply meant to control people and are not specifically designed to create lawbreakers. However, laws that create perverse incentives, like the ones I mentioned above, do deserve extra scrutiny. For example, I think asset forfeiture laws violate private property protections in the US Constitution.


25 posted on 02/23/2013 10:29:04 PM PST by CitizenUSA (Why celebrate evil? Evil is easy. Good is the goal worth striving for.)
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To: WildHighlander57

I don’t recall running into many requests to show anything, I did of course have the little military ID and a mimeographed sheet of NATO orders, when 4 of us and two French GIs were held up on the French border with vehicle problems, I do remember going in to win over the French Border guards which resulted in getting drunk with them and me pulling out a bottle of Jack Daniels as a gift for them, and them sending me away with a bottle of wine.

In recent years I have wondered if it was even legal for me to carry in bottles of Jack Daniels for such purposes, but they seemed pleased as punch with the gift rather than interested in searching my stuff.

I know that American military customs got all huffy and seemed happy to bust me when he found out I was bringing switch blades back to the states, but his superior told him that my unit was authorized such knives.


26 posted on 02/23/2013 11:33:23 PM PST by ansel12 (Romney is a longtime supporter of homosexualizing the Boy Scouts (and the military).)
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To: WildHighlander57

I should have added that a specially cleared customs agent is often assigned to check over some military goods that normal customs agents are forbidden access to.


27 posted on 02/24/2013 12:04:14 AM PST by ansel12 (Romney is a longtime supporter of homosexualizing the Boy Scouts (and the military).)
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To: WildHighlander57

Well, I could have the wrong house. But I at least narrowed it down to a half dozen at most, and made a decent guess - based on name alone, and all in a very few minutes.


28 posted on 02/24/2013 4:52:56 AM PST by ctdonath2 (3% of the population perpetrates >50% of homicides...but gun control advocates blame metal boxes.)
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To: null and void
The real reason she got through:


29 posted on 02/24/2013 5:05:53 AM PST by raybbr (People who still support Obama are either a Marxist or a moron.)
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To: null and void

“Military ID?”

My guess also.

I was in Vietnam, Okinawa, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong & the Philippines, all without a passport.

You guessed it. Most of the time I arrived on a big grey ship full of US Marines. (and a few sailors we let drive the boat and run the mess decks)


30 posted on 02/24/2013 5:42:04 AM PST by BwanaNdege ("To learn who rules over you simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize"- Voltaire)
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To: ansel12

How did you do that?

Military ID?


31 posted on 02/24/2013 7:40:03 AM PST by Hulka
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To: ctdonath2

That and it could have been repainted any time in the last 3 years.


32 posted on 02/24/2013 7:42:03 AM PST by null and void (Gun confiscation enables tyranny. Don't enable tyranny.)
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To: ansel12

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3FnpaWQJO0

(Should have read the rest of the thread before commenting. . . )


33 posted on 02/24/2013 7:48:08 AM PST by Hulka
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To: ansel12
I’ve been to Holland, Germany, Belgium, France more than a few times, but have never used a passport, or even owned one before or during those travels.

Last time I was in Germany, the "entrance control" clerk stamped my passport with out even looking at it. I had a lot more picky crap re-entering the US. I think most of it is "because we can" based.

Regards,
GtG

34 posted on 02/24/2013 5:29:29 PM PST by Gandalf_The_Gray (I live in my own little world, I like it 'cuz they know me here.)
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To: ansel12
I’ve been to Holland, Germany, Belgium, France more than a few times, but have never used a passport, or even owned one before or during those travels.

Last time I was in Germany, the "entrance control" clerk stamped my passport with out even looking at it. I had a lot more picky crap re-entering the US. I think most of it is "because we can" based.

Regards,
GtG

35 posted on 02/24/2013 5:29:53 PM PST by Gandalf_The_Gray (I live in my own little world, I like it 'cuz they know me here.)
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