In Florida, a Voluntary, Privatized 'Registered Traveler' Program

$80 a year guarantees an exclusive security line and promise of no random secondary pat-downs

Privacy watchdogs have questioned how flyers' personal data will be handled, although Brill pledges that Clear will obtain minimal information on its members and store almost none. For example, the system will not record its users' comings and goings the way automated toll-collection devices do.

“We have much less information about you, at our best, than any credit card company has,“ Brill said.

(Brill also has distanced himself from Choicepoint Inc., the data aggregator originally cited as one of Verified ID's partners. Brill said he wouldn't work with the company until it fixes the problems that led to a massive leak of personal information to identity thieves that came to light in February. A private data-mining company like Choicepoint isn't necessary for Clear in airports anyway, since the government is doing the vetting.)

Other observers worry that fast lanes will be tempting to terrorists whose records are clean enough to earn them a “trusted“ label.

“As soon as you make an easy path and a hard path through a security system, you invite the bad guys to try to take the easy path,“ said Bruce Schneier, author of “Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly about Security in an Uncertain World.“

“It's counterintuitive,“ Schneier said. “Everyone complains: 'Why are you frisking grandmas?' But if you don't frisk grandmas, that's who (terrorists) are going to pick to carry bombs.“


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