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"Airlines enforcing secret regulations"
Thursday, August 22, 2002
Airlines enforcing secret regulations
By LANCE GAY
The Knoxville (TN) News
The Transportation Security Administration is refusing to make public the
regulations it is imposing on airlines requiring ticket agents to get photo
identification from Americans checking in for flights.
Agency officials say that's because it's part of their airport security
system, but San Francisco privacy advocate John Gilmore said citizens have a
right to see laws restricting their travel. He said he knows of no other
case where U.S. government agencies have issued secret regulations affecting
the rights of American citizens.
Gilmore said he isn't contesting the government security directives aimed at
airport employees or security systems, but he said secret regulations
covering millions of American fliers are coercing people into using an
"internal passport" to identify themselves if they want to travel, and
eliminating the rights of Americans to travel anonymously.
"I see it more as a measure of state security," said Gilmore, founder of the
Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco group that monitors Internet
Gilmore's federal suit, filed in San Francisco to overturn the
Transportation Security Administration's regulations, is the latest round in
a series of fights that privacy advocates have launched against expanded
government use of driver licenses.
Privacy advocates contend relying on driver licenses provides only a false
sense of security, since some of the 19 terrorists involved in the Sept. 11
attacks had been issued valid U.S. driver's licenses and all had legal
documentation. President Bush last month asked Congress to consider
legislation that would establish a nationwide standard for driver licenses,
and some lawmakers want to create a national driver license card to replace
those currently issued by the states.
The Transportation Security Administration acknowledged the requirements
that airlines get photo identifications from the public are among "several"
regulations the agency has issued to the airline companies that it will not
Spokesman Greg Warren said he could not discuss the regulations because
making them public "would provide a roadmap to circumventing our airport
"There is a regulation that requires the airlines to request an
identification, but enforcing it is up to the airlines." Warren said.
Because some states allow people not to have their pictures taken on
religious grounds, Warren said there is also a requirement that people who
don't have photo identifications be put through more stringent security
The Supreme Court ruled in 1985 that states cannot compel people to have
photos displayed on their driver licenses if they have religious objections.
Gilmore tested the regulations himself July 4 when he bought a San
Francisco-Washington airline ticket, but refused to show photo
identification at the ticket counter.
After the ticket clerk for Southwest Airlines checked with her supervisor,
Gilmore was given a special checkered boarding pass that allowed him to go
to the gate, where he was refused permission to board the flight unless he
showed a photo identification. United refused to give him a boarding pass.
In both cases, he asked to see the regulations the airlines said they were
enforcing, but was refused. He said travel agents have told him airlines
want the regulations to stop people from using another person's discount
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