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TSA Puts ID-less Travelers on Terrorist Watch List?

Recently domestic airline passenger Sherri Davidoff wrote about her experience boarding an airplane without ID. Security required only basic information before Sherri could board the plane: she provided her name and the street and a state where she had lived previously. Sherri later said that she probably could have skipped even that much questioning by printing two boarding passes at home, and tossing the first one marked for further screening.

Sherri may have arrived at her destination, but the Transportation Security Administration has not forgotten that she showed up ID-less. The TSA has been adding ill-prepared passengers to their database of individuals who have violated security laws or were questioned for suspicious behavior. To see why the TSA wants to keep all the info on hand,


The head of the TSA said keeping a list of those who say they left their identification at home helps the TSA track potential terrorists who might probe the system for cracks. Starting today, the TSA will only keep information for individuals that were unable to be sufficiently identified upon further questioning.

For 15 years, the same database retains the name, address, social security number, nationality, race, physical features, and information about traveling partners for those simply questioned by police for suspicious behavior. Last week the TSA misplaced a laptop that contained unencrypted identification data for 33,000 people. Could keeping databases of extensive identification information actually make us less safe?


Join The Conversation
amybdk amybdk 8 years
on the sign: "it's a great day to be flying" pffff... my ass! it's never a great day to fly.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
"I dont know about anyone else, but I dont know that I would feel too comfortable on a plane with people who didnt have identification on them and who could be completely anonymous. Who knows who they are or what they could do? " I would agree with this if getting a fake ID weren't so easy. :-(
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 8 years
I dont think the whole lost laptop debacle has anything to do with putting people on a list who traveled without their ID. I think its a great idea to track travelers who didnt have IDs to find cracks in the system. I dont know about anyone else, but I dont know that I would feel too comfortable on a plane with people who didnt have identification on them and who could be completely anonymous. Who knows who they are or what they could do? 9 times out of 10 they're prob just some drunk kid who lost their ID in Vegas, but eventually I think not having an ID and still being able to fly could be a terrorist loophole of some sorts.
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 8 years
Oh I wouldn't bother asking security people about their tactics, as Angelica did above - often it seems like they have absolutely no rhyme or reason for things and I don't know what kind of "rules" they're following. Besides, these rules seem to change frequently. So I just do whatever they tell me to even if it's the opposite of what I was told to do one month ago in the same airport. Whatever. It's funny - I'm an American citizen - born and raised in the States and I get hassled there every single time I enter the country. I actually recall my experience of entering and exiting RUSSIA easier than getting into the US. Hello, I'm American! It's like 20 questions. Meanwhile, flying into Jerez airport three months earlier, I got a big smile, "Hola!" and a stamp in my passport and then I was off. Lovely.
kia kia 8 years
I had no idea. I figured I'd be screwed if my wallet got stolen in a town I was visiting. I mean I e-mailed by passport main page and id to myself just in case, but never thought it might actually work.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i think that people are just a bit exhausted with the process and how you have to do so much to travel. it's weird cause you can travel through some places and they are cool with you taking certain products on the plane yet you can be in other places and they go CRAZY if you have something in your bag. it must be the same thing with IDs - i'm just always afraid that i'm going to get the mean guy so i try to have everything that i need. granted i'm not sure that i would feel comfy knowing that my identity etc is lost on a laptop if i don't have my ID - it's just a catch 22 - right?
Angelica Angelica 8 years
I took a flight from SF to LA earlier this year and the woman in front of me had an expired license (it had expired years before). The security person asked her about it and she just played dumb and pretended she couldn't understand his question, so he let her go through. I asked him about it (mostly because I was agitated to have to stand in line if they didn't actually care if we had valid IDs) and he just shrugged and said: "What am I gonna do about it now?" I was totally shocked. Database or not, I think policing security lines must be a logistical nightmare.
Jillness Jillness 8 years
Thanks, folks! :)
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 8 years
What a weirdo.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
Right on Jillness! She says that she actually MAILED her wallet to her hotel in Vegas so that she wouldn't have it on her person when she went to the airport! I almost wish it had been lost in the mail! :P
cubadog cubadog 8 years
Well said Jillness
cubadog cubadog 8 years
IMO there is no excuse for not having proper identification in this day and age. I am sure this will piss people off but you should not be on the plane at all without proper ID. Having an "extra datebase" is not going to fix the problem. I am not sure what airports are allowing you through the security checkpoints without looking at your ID and I travel a lot for work both domestically and internationally. I would have like to see her get out or into Israel!
Jillness Jillness 8 years
"this woman says that she showed up without an id on purpose because "The freedom to travel anonymously is fundamentally important to our right to peaceably assemble." WTF??? Take a car then lady, completely anonymous! Flying is not a right. It is a priviledge that comes with following the safety rules and regulations that are put in place not only for people in the plane, but people on the ground as well. With increased risk for danger comes increased responsibility.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
I am they use this database to choose people for extra screening subsequently to this??
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
Oh I'm aware of her intent I was just b!+(#!n about people in general. I've known a few people who either lost an I.D. or let it expire and for some strange reason thought they could get on with out one. I told them they need to take their lazy @$$e$ and get one.
True-Song True-Song 8 years
>That's just irresponsible and lazy. Hey now! I once had to fly without id. I had just moved and gotten a new diver's license. The DMV took my old license and gave me a paper temporary--with no photo. I went to the airport with that and my birth certificate, and I still got hassled, an extra screening, and maybe put on this watch list? And awesome luck that I had, I freaking lost my temporary license while on my trip. It was then, through frantic googling, that I discovered some ways to get around showing a photo ID. For one thing, they can't require it. If you try to fly without it, they'll search you to high heaven but ultimately let you through if they don't find anything. For another, you can show alternate forms of ID like a birth certificate and a voter registration receipt or something. I'm going to remember that two boarding passes trick!
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
Well, I got over my laziness and decided to read the linked article.... Apparently, Jude, the TSA revised it's policy in June that required everyone to have a photo id. (Who knew? And, I have to say - makes not much sense!) Hypno, this woman says that she showed up without an id on purpose because "The freedom to travel anonymously is fundamentally important to our right to peaceably assemble." I am sure that she will be thrilled to hear that her information is now being stored in a (probably ill-secured!) TSA database!
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 8 years
I'm sorry but if you are not a criminal who is trying to hide one thing or another than there is no reason what so ever not to have a photo I.D. That's just irresponsible and lazy.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
:rotfl: You are probably right!!
stephley stephley 8 years
I was thinking someday, some poor intern is going to be handed a laptop and told to try and come up with a way to organize all the information!
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
Agreed, Steph, and it does seem like they are casting a very wide net here. How will they ever be able to logically analyze and utilize this information anyway?
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
I don't know why, but I always assumed that you ABSOLUTELY NEEDED your photo I.D. to even get past the security checkpoints. I mean, why else do I triple-check my bag every time I'm getting ready to go to the airport, if not to make sure I've got my driver's license and stuff?
stephley stephley 8 years
There doesn't seem to be much attention paid to the quality of information they're collecting.
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