TSA’s new Pre-Check programs raises major privacy concerns

When the Transportation Security Administration’s Pre-Check formally launches sometime this fall, its trusted-traveler program will already have the enthusiastic endorsement of frequent travelers — and an equally enthusiastic denouncement from privacy advocates.

Pre-Check offers an appealing shortcut past the often long airport security lines. After you pay an enrollment fee and submit to a background check and interview, the TSA promises to treat you like a VIP. You’ll be sent to a preferred line, where you can leave your shoes, light outerwear and belt on, leave your laptop in its case and keep your bag of liquids and gels in your carry-on.

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“I can’t say enough about how much I love it,” says Ralph Velasco, a photographer based in Corona del Mar, Calif. “It’s saved me many, many hours. I’d highly recommend it.”

How do Velasco and others know about the benefits of Pre-Check?

Because the agency assigned to protect U.S. transportation systems has slowly rolled out the program in 40 airports since 2011.

Travelers could opt in to Pre-Check through their frequent-flier program or through another government trusted-traveler initiative, such as Global Entry, a similar program that allows travelers to cut the customs line when they return to the United States from overseas.

Velasco, for example, belongs to Global Entry, which is operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

But you might think twice before plunking down the $85 that a five-year Pre-Check membership is expected to cost. Privacy advocates and some consumers are uneasy about government trusted-traveler programs like this one. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be approved, and if you aren’t, you may never know why. And Pre-Check status is no guarantee that you can avoid a standard TSA screening, which includes a full-body scan or a so-called “enhanced” pat-down.

“If you sign up, you’ll want to keep your nose clean for the rest of your life,” says Gregory Nojeim, a director at the Center for Democracy & Technology. “Because that’s how long the FBI will keep your fingerprints.”

True, as part of the application process, TSA collects a cache of personal information about you, including your prints. They’re held in a database for 75 years, and the database is queried by the FBI and state and local law enforcement as needed to solve crimes at which fingerprints are lifted from crime scenes, according to Nojeim. The prints may also be used for background checks.

“What started as a criminal database to link arrestees to other crimes is being turned into an all-purpose database of fingerprint identifiers,” Nojeim says.

It isn’t what Pre-Check is now — we don’t really know that yet — but what it could someday become that worries privacy-watchers. In the future, it isn’t too difficult to imagine a faster line for pre-screened train passengers waiting to board. TSA’s roaming Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams already selectively screen Amtrak passengers and attendees at special events such as NFL games and political conventions. It also wouldn’t be much of a stretch to see the program requiring passengers to be pre-approved before they can fly.

“I would not apply for one of these trusted-traveler programs, which in the past have involved giving the government more information or authorizing it to get more information about me,” says Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit organization that advocates on privacy issues.

The concept of a line for elite travelers who can afford to pay a fee also strikes many observers as unfair, if not un-American. Critics say that, in the interests of safety, all travelers should be given the same careful screening whenever they fly.

Another problem with trusted-traveler programs: You might not be approved, and even if you are, you could lose your preferred status at any time. Consider what happened to Melanie Hansen when she recently applied for the Global Entry program. A few weeks after her interview, she received a form letter rejecting her.

Turns out that when she and her husband were leaving Hong Kong 24 years ago, they failed to declare two valuable watches that they’d purchased in China. “I admitted not properly declaring items on my application for Global Entry, and the approximate date of that incident,” says Hansen, a writer who lives in Columbia, S.C. “When the Global Entry representative brought it up, I could only say that I was young and stupid.”

Actually, Hansen is fortunate. Many Americans who apply for a trusted-traveler program never find out why they were turned down and are left to speculate. Appeals to the government are often answered with vague responses. The Customs and Border Protection Web site notes that having a criminal record or a past violation of CBP laws, regulations or policies “may render you ineligible” for participation in all trusted-traveler programs, but if you appeal, the exact reasons for denial or suspension are not always given.

Program membership can also be terminated at any time, leaving travelers wondering what they did to get themselves expelled but never knowing the answer. But a TSA spokesman said Pre-Check is run by TSA and will have its own appeals process in place, which will allow passengers to ask for a second look if they’re rejected.

Assuming that you’re green-lighted for Pre-Check and you don’t do anything that gets you kicked out of the program, you still might be sent to the slow lane. Even passengers with a Pre-Check designation on their boarding passes aren’t guaranteed expedited screening, according to the TSA, which vows to continue incorporating what it calls “random, unpredictable screening measures” into airport security.

The early enthusiasm for Pre-Check may be a product of the relief air travelers feel when they’re exempted from the TSA’s normal screening methods, which some have criticized for being invasive and unconstitutional. But as the program expands and more stories begin to emerge of passengers being rejected or removed from this pricey trusted-traveler program, the tide of public opinion could turn.

By then it might be too late. The government seems determined to know more about you before you fly, whether you’re willing to pay for the privilege or not. In a little-noticed proposal, the Department of Homeland Security says that it plans to upgrade to its Secure Flight system, which pre-screens all passengers. The results would be indicated on your boarding pass, with some observers speculating that the TSA would use a “green” designation for trusted travelers, “yellow” for non-members of Pre-Check and “red” for probable security risks.

TSA says that the new Secure Flight would be used to send non-members who are tagged as low-risk passengers through the Pre-Check lines, even if they aren’t members.

Travelers have until Oct. 10 to leave comments on the government’s Regulations.gov Web site. It may be your last, best chance to let the government know what you think of its plan to pre-approve you for travel.

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137 thoughts on “TSA’s new Pre-Check programs raises major privacy concerns

  1. If you sign up, you’ll want to keep your nose clean for the rest of your
    life,” says Gregory Nojeim, a director at the Center for Democracy
    & Technology. “Because that’s how long the FBI will keep your

    That’s a bit misleading. The government has much of that information. For example, if you have a professional license, are a naturalized citizen, etc, your fingerprints are on file with the government

    1. Or if you have been in the military, your fingerprints are on file. Not a big deal, as long as you have nothing to hide.

  2. I’m assuming that if I’m rejected, there won’t even be a partial refund of the membership fee, so this is almost like a slot mchine that costs $85 a pull.

    1. that is my concern as well since we don;t fully know the range of things that could cause a rejection.

      plus if you only fly once to twice a year. it might be better to just get an upgrade. you get to go thriugh the fast TSA line AND you get free movies and drinks on the plane.

  3. Other than fingerprints I can’t think of what the government does not already know about you. Unless you have been living in a cave most of what they ask is already in a database somewhere.

    It wouldn’t bother me to have to keep my nose clean for the rest of my life. I support these programs.

    1. Except that some clerk in government gets to decide what “keeping your nose clean” means. It may be a perfectly legal activity that gets someone thrown off the list. Looks like another venue for more government control of individual activities to me.

  4. How about just a trusted CITIZEN program – like for those of us how pay our taxes. vote, and have no criminal record? I don’t understand while those travelers are more trusted than my 78 year old mother-in-law from Arkansas 🙂

        1. And how do they know? And by the way I didn’t say your grandmother was a criminal, just that being 78 without a record doesn’t prove someone isn’t capable of a crime.

          1. Seriously? That’s what you’ve been reduced to? Now calling out someone’s 78 year old mother-in-law? Wow. Just… Wow.

            Looks like the terrorists won.

          2. It is not reasonable to use age as a reason to say someone is “safe”, there are far more variables than that. As soon as the terrorists learn that there is some sort of exemption like that, for sure they will exploit it.

          3. For you an Bill___A…. no, terrorists have not exploited the system as there really aren’t any measurable number. Otherwise, we would have actually had real incidents in the US by well-financed terror groups.

            The fact is, Americans kill 6000 people a year with handguns, which is much more of a threat to our citizens than any terrorists on planes or elsewhere.

          4. And 40,000 die each year in automobile accidents, 30,000 each year from obesity, 10,000 per year from lightning strikes, and on and on and on. Sheesh! Are you really going to go there with that?

          5. Which would argue for eliminating preCheck as theoretically those accepted would have a similar clean history.

          6. I don’t know how they do it but I think they do more than just check a person’s history, they probably use analytics to make accurate assessments of risk. I do agree with you that the whole current system is unnecessary and doesn’t prevent terrorism.

          7. Which your opinion is a shock to people reading your posts.

            I nhave ever said people shouldn’t pay money to regain their rights if they want to, at least some of the time. That is a personal choice.

            Ultimately, Osama Bin Laden has defeated the US, with the enthusiastic help of the TSA.

      1. Which is why the “PreCheck” program is letting people with similar profiles to the hypothetical grandmother bypass the standard ‘security’, which lessens security overall.

        There have been no suicidal passengers who have caused 1 fatality even with a working non-metallic bomb (the sole purpose for unconstitutional scanners and criminal patdowns) on US domestic flights for over 51 years.

        The only 3 known incidents were on flights from non-US airports, and 2 out of 3 of those incidents were by frequent travelers. Richard Reid, the failed shoe bomber, had flown through Israel (without incident…) a few months before. In 1997, a suspected liquid bomb killed 1 person while the plane landed safely, and that bomb was alleged to have been planted by one of the 9-11 plotters who traveled a lot..

        The last incident – the failed ‘underwear bomber’ – was originally denied a Visa by our State Dept except the intelligence agencies overrode that to let him on a plane, according to testimony to Congress. That does lend some credibility to the story of a person helping him get through boarding at Amsterdam, as the story was told by a young lawyer with no reason to make that up.

        The reality is that PreCheck is just the standard security Post 9-11 that was used for 2-3 years until gutless Americans started to give up liquids in 2003. Anyone who is an American citizen has a 51 year history of not needing unconstitutional scanners and criminal pat downs.

        We should simply go back to standard metal detectors, leave shoes on, keep personal items in our carry-ons, laptops in bags, and leave it at that. There is no reasonable risk for US domestic originating flights.

        I do understand how BMG4ME and other travelers want to pay $85 to save the inconvenience of waiting in line. It is unfortunate that the country of Homeland continues to terrorize American citizens at the Gulags (formerly airports).

        I wonder how much more our ‘security’ will be lessened when the TSA randomly grants 25% of passengers a free access to PreCheck lines, without knowing anything more than name and DOB as given out today for tickets?

        At any rate, PreCheck is just post-911 security which worked quite well and there was no reason to change it.

  5. I guess all those little “white” lies we tell can come back to haunt us over time. The fee probably does not even cover the costs of doing the check, additional personal for the separate lines and the lines themselves. If this were “Clear” there would be no question about the fee. Finger prints only enable checks against known databases. Many of you should be worried if they start checking your Facebook, Twitter or Email accounts. Information put out there freely. Information being used by potential employers and health insurers today.

    1. I never did quite understand the point of Clear. If it was like this program, it would have made sense. Instead, you went through background checks, got your retinas scanned, all for the privilege of cutting in line and going through the same checks everybody else did. I expect they envisioned something like this program, but they never did get around to it.

      1. I agree, you pay a fee much more than for TSA Pre, you get to the front of the line and you still have to take off your shoes, jacket, hat and remove the laptop – and it’s only available in a handful of places! It amazes me they are still in business – they already went out of business once.

  6. Ease down on the hyperbole, Chris. While I do see enthusiastic frequent flyers gushing about the program, you didn’t actually post any ” equally enthusiastic denouncement from privacy advocates.” You posted a couple “I wouldn’t sign up” and “I don’t want the FBI to have my fingerprints.” Hardly an “enthusiastic denouncement.”

    If you don’t like the program, don’t sign up. And I don’t see this as pandering to “the elites”. $85 for five years, and no actual frequent traveler requirement hardly restricts this to the “1%”. It won’t be worth it if you travel once a year, but you don’t have to be a seasoned road warrior either to get some pretty decent value out of the program. (And elite frequent flyers have have had their own security lines even before the TSA, even if those lines didn’t have the reduced scanning requirements.)

    If I start traveling more (and I expect to), I’m totally signing up; the FBI already has way more information about me on file than Trusted Traveler asks for. (Old security clearance.) The random times they’ll send you to the regular lines makes sense to me; I’d do the same if I was in charge. (I’d run the regular lines differently, but I have no problem with the random checks.)

    As a side-note, the auto Play Video (w/ audio) on mouseover from AARP is back; you really need a better ad broker. It’s ads like that that drive me to installing AdBlock.

  7. It’s amazing how some people go out looking for problems where there aren’t any. If someone got denied for something wrong they did, then that increases my confidence in the program because it shows that they are doing a thorough job when they do the background check. This is no different from having to go through a background check when you apply for a security clearance. If people are scared about their privacy, let them go and live in a cave and don’t apply but don’t stop those of us that live in the real world from enjoying the benefits that we we sign up for knowing that some privacy is given up – as you would expect in a program that makes sure people aren’t doing things they shouldn’t do in private. I just went to the government sign and added my approval. The only thing wrong with it is that you can be randomly denied. When people have a security clearance they don’t get randomly denied access to their work.

  8. How about I’m innocent until proven guilty? This may sound a little hyperbolic, but why does that apply everywhere else in society and a court of law but not in the airport? Why does my wanting to fly (or possibly take a train) mean I’m automatically suspected of “something”? Maybe I should just be “approved” to fly because I want or need to fly. The TSA won’t profile at the airport, but I can’t figure out how this is not some type of profiling, especially where there is no guarantee you’ll be accepted, can be booted from the program at any time and it does not guarantee you won’t be subjected to a pat-down or other enhanced screening at the whim of a TSA agent. And the fact that the TSA would have it’s own appeals process should you be kicked out of the program does nothing to make me feel better about it. We know how they currently handle complaints from customers.

    I think the PreCheck program violates the 14th amendment on some level. All travelers should be given the same careful scrutiny when they travel, regardless of frequent flyer or financial status. And that scrutiny should not involve ineffective scanners that make you stand the way someone who is being arrested stands, or any type of enhanced pat-downs.

    1. Since unfortunately the TSA won’t profile, which they should, this is the next best thing. This doesn’t violate the 14th amendment. Everyone is given the same scrutiny, but for those of us that grasp the opportunities that come to us rather than finding problems with them, we get scrutinized before we travel. If you don’t like it, don’t use it, and stand in line for half an hour while I breeze through and feel sorry for you and others that are waiting in line.

      1. I fly as little as possible these days, mostly because of the TSA. But you go ahead and submit your info to the TSA with no guarantee that you’ll be accepted or get the benefits PreCheck offers, and I’ll wave as I drive past the airport.

        1. I don’t think you read what I said. People in the TSA Pre line don’t cower in fear. I long ago stopped being afraid of flying because of terror. Airport security is necessary because it’s proven that people want to destroy planes, but I also believe that as long as there is some sort of token security in place (which is what we have now) then our fate is in G-d’s hands not the people screening us.

          1. I did read what you said and the point is you “feeling sorry” for others who don’t want to give up our rights to fly. Typically, that opinion comes from people who think the extreme level of security theater and intrusive government actions are needed to “keep us safe” because they are scared of the latest bogeyman.

            YFMV (your fears may vary)

          2. That’s not typical with the people I know. Usually people feel sorry for others that are experiencing misfortune – in this case the misfortune of having to stand in line and wait to go through a security system that is a token gesture and requires people to do pointless things like removing shoes, computers, coats, jackets and now even belts. It’s even more sad when the people standing in line could apply for a time and dignity saving program called TSA Pre but won’t because they of privacy which to me seems like the bogeyman you refer to.

    2. I agree. We should be innocent until proven guilty. The TSA violates the 4th amendment on a daily basis. I think you have a good point about the 14th too. Not everyone has the funds to submit to their PreCheck program. It’s not a lot of money, but neither were poll taxes. Luckily, they got rid of those.

        1. That’s apples and oranges. If I can afford to fly a plane, I shouldn’t need to pay extra so that the government won’t subject me to additional searches. Further, I’m guaranteed not to be subjected to searches by my government without probable cause. What exactly did I do that seems criminal? Buy a ticket? Go on a vacation?

          1. Why not? You pay extra for checking baggage, flying first class, watching a movie, using the internet, getting a better seat, etc? In any case, if you think about how much your time is worth, and how much if costs you to stand in line over the next five years, as well as any fees you might end up having to pay if you miss your flight because of long lines, which you could eliminate for $85, you’re actually paying extra by NOT signing up for TSA Pre assuming you get approved.

          2. Why not? How about because it’s the government doing it? How about because it’s my government promising if I pay them money and submit to a background check, they may violate my 4th amendment rights a bit less?

            Do you care about your freedom at all?

          3. Yes I love my freedom, that’s why I moved to the USA where we have a government that cares about freedom, and we live in a country where people don’t try to stop others from doing what is good for them (like signing up for TSA Pre).

          4. You can’t love your freedom if you will give it up so easily and enthusiastically. America used to mean something. We used to be a city upon a hill.

            If you think government should do what’s good for you, why don’t you push for laws banning sugar, lack of exercise, smoking, drinking, and wasting time on the internet? Why don’t you suggest that the TSA start doing body cavity searches? After all, you never know what someone might shove up there.

          5. I do know you don’t care for freedom. You are endorsing giving away your rights, even suggesting others do the same. France fell because of thinking like that.

            I’m denying freedom? I’m saying government should get the heck out of this. They have no right. If you’re paranoid about flying without everyone being subjected to illegal searches, drive. Of course, the guy next to you might have a gun in the car. Maybe you’d better stay home and lock your door.

          6. Yes you are, you are telling me what I think just because you disagree with me. That is denying freedom. We all give away our rights every day every time we interact with others. There is nothing wrong with that. We can’t all do what we please. None of us are free, thank G-d.

          7. Yes you are right, we all care. I never told anyone they had to sign up for it. By trying to stop it for others you are trying to curb our rights to use something that we feel is good.

          8. I don’t just want to stop pre-check, I want to stop the TSA. Their very existence is unconstitutional.

          9. Do you remember what it was like before the TSA? Would you want to go back to that? It’s not the TSA that is the problem, it’s the way that they treat the public that is the problem. If you’ve ever traveled through British security, you can certainly tell the difference. How about Israeli security? You certainly don’t feel comfortable being interrogated by an Israeli airport security officer, but (unless as I do you believe that your safety ultimately is in G-d’s hands) most people agree it’s actually going to make you safer as opposed to what we have here at the moment that is just a show to make people who are scared (which I am not ) feel better.

          10. Interesting how so many people are quoting the constitution yet badmouthing our government at the same time. Anyway the government has been involved in flying since way before 9-11, who runs the FAA? Would you want to see them disappear? The way to avoid molestation today is to get TSA Pre. Regardless of what you think of the TSA, if they are offering a workaround that works which it does, and you can qualify, then take it, and then you won’t be subjected to the “molestation”. Otherwise it’s like complaining every day about having to wait at the toll lines for 15 minutes because you don’t want to sign up for EZPass even though you could.

          11. No, you are incorrect. The FAA hasn’t been mentioned by anyone else here and is beside the point. Precheck isn’t a workaround because you aren’t guaranteed to receive it, but won’t get refunded if rejected. Background checks are unnecessary and intrusive. Even if approved, you may not get the benefit.
            EZPass is getting a little out of hand, but for now one can travel without it and won’t have the gov’t background check you beyond for traffic violations (I suspect). And EZPass is also off topic.

          12. I think you are taking this all much too seriously. I can’t believe you would sit in line for 15 minutes just because of privacy concerns, and no EZPass is not off topic and just because nobody else has mentioned FAA up to know doesn’t mean it’s not relevant.

          13. I do remember what it was like. The reason it’s a problem my friend is because the constitution forbids what they do. Perhaps I’d be more forgiving if they were nicer about it, but they’ve done this to themselves. They could adopt the Israeli model of asking questions, though here we could simply decline to answer.

            Now, say we went back to the Pre-TSA days. If a private security worker touched my wife’s breast or my crouch, I’d be at liberty in law and in conscience to beat the heck out of him. I could also sue the pants off his employer. The worker would be labelled a sex offender. Today, TSA workers across the country do things which should label them a sex offender.

          14. How is signing up to be background searched and fingerprinted to get on a plane good for you or anyone?

          15. It allows us to get TSA Pre and avoid the “molestation” at the airport that you and others are complaining about.

          16. It allows us to save a lot of time and avoid the “molestation” at the airport that you and others are complaining about.

      1. Pre-check is a privilege not a right. We call them “head-of-line PRIVILEGES” because that’s what they are, privileges. Travelling via air is not a right either by the way.

        1. Ummm… traveling by air has been declared a right in a court of law. Please
          go read the Ibrahim 9th Circuit Court of Appeals case before you spout outdated “fact.” And then I want one of you “I Love Pre-Check” people to clearly explain to me why you support our Federal government harassing (as in 100%) anyone requiring a prosthetic. Oh, and I would especially welcome your thoughts on why you support any policy that automatically excludes anyone, including returning wounded vets/lost a limb from being allowed to take advantage of this less-than-brilliant “head-of-the-line”, “keep your shoes on” “privilege”. Tell me why you think that anyone requiring medical assistive equipment is automatically designated as a suspicious character.

          I’m waiting………

          1. I did read that ruling. It has more to do with the challenging the TSA to see why her name was on the no-fly list, and thus to determine if her name should be removed from the list. It was also a ruling about whether the court had jurisdiction to order a review of the list. Nowhere did it seem to say you have a “Right to fly” but more of a right to determine why your name was on the list….

            As for the prosthetic issue… I don’t know. Sorry,…. haven’t seen anything like that while flying, one way or the other, so cannot comment.

            However, even if I don’t do the precheck thing, the more people that go to another line means the line I’m in goes that much faster.

          2. Regardless of that decision, freedom to travel isn’t free once you start saying what methods of travel are covered.

          3. Did you miss this part? ““While the Constitution does not ordinarily guarantee the right to travel by any particular form of transportation, given that other forms of travel usually remain possible, the fact remains that for international travel, air transport in these modern times is practically the only form of transportation, travel by ship being prohibitively expensive. . . . . Decisions involving domestic air travel, such as the Gilmore case, are not on point.” No. C06–00545 WHA, 2012 WL 6652362, at *7 (N.D. Cal., Dec. 20, 2012).” Oh, and regarding your last sentence, above… Gee, I’m so glad it’s all about you.

          4. Still, it doesn’t make it a right with guaranteed Constitutional protection. And their ruling doesn’t make it so.

            And as for my last sentence. It has to do with the fact that all those in the “regular” line may go faster, including myself and yourself, if many others are in the pre-check lane. I try to look at the bright side of things, if at all possible. 🙂

          5. Of course he missed it, the above is from a different case a district court case, not the 9th circuit!!!

          6. So everyone can travel by air whether they can afford it or not? This is not possible…they can allow anyone to travel who can afford it but that is not inclusive of EVERYONE. I know many low-income families who cannot fly because it is to costly…so the argument that pre-check costs money and is not affordable to everyone is moot. The people who cannot afford $85 for pre-check cannot afford the ticket in the first place.

          7. No, the plane ticket is between a private company and the flyer. Precheck is the gov’t attempting to “approve” who can fly by offering a possibility of our privacy and property being less invaded by gov’t employees.

          8. Not a right. You have to BUY a ticket before you fly – which makes it a commodity or at best a perishable service and you are just a consumer. You do have consumer rights only AFTER you buy a ticket.

            You can be denied travel by air by any carrier at anytime they determine that you are or may be a threat. How they determine it – well that’s another story. Sorry.

            You do the right to Freedom of Movement within and out of the U.S. Exercise away.

            Lindquist, DiAnn, Esq. “The Constitutional Right To Travel.” The Liz Library.
            The Aviation and Transportation Security Act (P.L. 107-71).

            Freedom of movement is not denied unless a passenger refuses to submit to a search required by law.

            In discussing freedom of movement being a privilege, all U.S. citizens have the right to move within the 50 states without the requirement of submitting to a search of one’s person or property prior to travel or movement.

            Not the right to FLY.

          9. Are you saying that people requiring a prosthetic are not eligible for TSA Pre? Or are you saying that such people who go through the TSA Pre line are automatically harrassed?

          10. Pre-Check is useless for anyone with any type of prosthetic… these otherwise innocent people have “anomalies” which mean full pat-downs (at a minimum), up to strip searches. Keeping light jackets and shoes on is the least of their worries. Go Google women who have had their mastectomy prosthetics searched, and even removed. Oh yes – they are harassed no matter which line they endure.

          1. The Constitution is supposed to guarantee that those right are not violated. We should not have to pay to have them violated less.

          1. Correct. Also, the Federal Code of Regulations includes the navigable airspace as a right for citizens to travel through.

            Regardless, although a private enterprise has the right to deny one travel, the government does not without justification. The No Fly list is blatantly unconstitutional as recently corroborated in the Appeals Court.

          2. …as long as the government isn’t the prohibitive agency. An airline can prohibit a person on a plane if they have determined that person to be a threat or a possible threat. The determining factor can be order and discipline otherwise you could just tell a flight attendant to pack sand when they tell you to fasten your seatbelt or put away you electronic devices (I know this is up for dispute).
            When the government owns the airlines, then maybe flying will be a right you can exercise…as of now…you can only complain of discrimination – good luck.

          3. Freedom of movement is not the issue…how you travel is still a privilege (you can be thrown off a plane or bus for that matter)…you are always free to move about domestic or otherwise. But you do have to pay to travel freely…hmmm?

          4. I shouldn’t have to pay the GOV’T to “approve me” for the Constitutionally guaranteed right possibility of riding in any transportation medium I choose and can pay for.

      2. If you can’t afford the $75 to usually get out of the line, then you probably don’t fly enough for it to be worth it. Or you can’t afford it because you’re flying to much, can’t balance their checkbook, or re-prioritized your money to other places. None of which qualifies under the 14th amendment.

        1. If you can’t understand that making someone pay more to have their rights violated less (4th amendment) is wrong, then there’s nothing I can do to help.

          1. I was arguing the 14th amendment issue, not the 4th. Two different issues with different arguments. If you missed that part of my argument where I clearly stated the 14th amendment then there’s nothing I can do to help.

            While I agree that the government has overstepped the 4th amendment in many ways, lets not pretend there wasn’t airport security before and that flying is a privilege and not a right. I disagree with Nudoscopes and that by opting out you get “extra special” treatment. But going through a magnetometer and taking your laptop out of your carry on so they can check for weapons is not unreasonable, it’s hassle.

            It’s also not unreasonable, if you have the money, to pay extra to avoid hassle and save time. It’s not much different than tipping your bartender extra early in then night so you get better service and faster drinks. It’s worth it to some, but not to others.

          2. Then you replied to the wrong person.

            In any event, there was airport security before and it was private. That’s legal. The government doing it isn’t.

            Flying is not a privilege. We are free to travel where we will and frankly once you start limiting the method unless you abandon rights, that’s not freedom. If airplanes existed in 1789, you can better believe it would be specified. That’s a tired argument by those who can’t defend what the government is doing.

            It is unreasonable for reasons already specified. I won’t have my rights violated and I won’t pay so they’ll do it a bit less. If I fly, I know I’ll be arrested because the first time they sexual assault me, I’ll slug the pervert.

            Frankly, let’s start calling them what they are. If you take a job working for the TSA, violating the rights of your fellow Americans daily, and grabbing other people where they shouldn’t be touched, you’re a pervert. You should be labelled a sex offender. They can’t say it’s their job, because following orders is no defense for violating the law.

          3. Umm, no I didn’t.
            I replied to your comment “I think you have a good point about the 14th too. Not everyone has the funds to submit to their PreCheck program.”

  9. This is the sentence that bothered me the most:

    Even passengers with a Pre-Check designation on their boarding passes
    aren’t guaranteed expedited screening, according to the TSA, which vows
    to continue incorporating what it calls “random, unpredictable screening
    measures” into airport security.

    Even if we pay for the privilege to by-pass the standard TSA lines, we’ll still be put in the standard TSA lines, based on the whimsy of the TSA agent. Also, even if someone hasn’t paid for the Pre-check, they can still be put in the pre-check line. Seems to me TSA is awfully good at coating their deeds or misdeeds with the same cloth of “Random, unpredictable screening measures”. And the saddest part is, they probably paid some PR firm tens of thousands of dollars to come up with that line. Glad they’re getting their money’s worth out of it.

    Sorry to disappoint the supporters but, this sounds like yet another money grab by the government.

    1. I suggest you read the information about TSA Pre first. It’s not at the whim of the TSA agent that you get denied. While I agree that it’s wrong to be denied having been approved for the service, let’s be accurate when we express our opinions here. In fact I’ve never been denied and I’ve used it several times.

    2. LOL. You are not selected for Pre-Check at the whim of the TSA. When you check-in for your flight, you are randomly selected by a computer algorithm. If you were selected, there will be 3 beeps when your boarding pass is scanned. I would expect a travel agent would be a bit more knowledgeable about this….

        1. The airlines. I was referring to the selection process at the airport, when you print your boarding pass and the airline selects the Pre-Check passengers out of the pool of travelers who have been granted Pre-Check privileges (usually people with Global Entry, or Nexus). I was not referring to the selection process to have Pre-check privileges granted to you (the background check). They are 2 different things.

    3. Not a money grab. More like covering some of the expenses – user pay. Thinking about the amount of effort needed to process an application, this is not unreasonable.

      1. There is one common background which is “American citizen, on a US domestic flight”. This single criteria has a 51 year history of no issues on a flight.

        Anything else, such as criminal record, age, gender, religion, party affiliation, etc. adds nothing more secure to this criteria.

        In fact, denying someone a flight because of a criminal conviction (say, felony for assault, robbery, embezzlement, smoking weed, or drunk driving) has not been codified in law (such as some states don’t allow gun ownership if you are a felon) so denying travel within the United States violates the 5th amendment. It would be no different if the government said a felon couldn’t write a letter to the editor or post comments on the web.

        This is very similar to the recent decision AGAINST the “No Fly” list which shows no due process has occurred to deny someone the right to travel (which Supreme Court decision majority opinion said the right to travel is part of the ‘liberties’ identified in the 5th amendment.)

        The last violent act on a plane was by a pilot, who obviously didn’t have a past criminal history, but he was ‘off his meds’ and posed a threat to the airplane with his behaviour. This kind of shows that passenger restrictions are not stopping more of the real threats that have been proven in history.

        1. Your opening statement is “American Citizen on a US domestic flight” and no issues for 51 years. There are numerous incidents of US citizens hijacking planes in the last 51 years.
          I don’t know what you are trying to say, but beginning your comment with nonsense doesn’t give you any credibility at all.

          1. Sorry – let me clarify. To be more precise (as pointed out in another reply) there have been no fatalities caused by a suicidal airline passenger with a working NON-METALLIC bomb on a US domestic flight for over 51 years.

            The only justification used by the TSA for nude body surrender scanners and criminal pat downs is that metal detectors cannot detect non-metallic bombs. However, scanners don’t IDENTIFY what the ATR software says is an “anomaly”. In short, the scanners do not specifically identify whether the anomaly is a bomb, a gun, or a bomb-making item. So, this results in 100% profiling of people with certain medical disabilities.

            The risks are minimal and really almost non-existent to justify scanners/pat downs.

            This is the most useless general search ever done and the most widespread invasive inch-by-inch body searches ever done on Americans. In fact, the TSA probably searches over 350 million passengers a year with the scanners, compared to only 700,000 searches a year in the illegal New York City “stop and frisk” program.

          2. Thank you for the clarification.
            I don’t like how the TSA does things. There are other countries which have a more common sense approach. However, I don’t know what they need to do in order to fix it. There is altogether too much theft, too many useless processes, and too much nonsense.
            They open bags where there is no justification to do so, they steal or misplace luggage straps, they don’t deal with the special “TSA” locks properly. Maybe they have stopped a terrorist or two, but seeing as though a kid got through security and onto a plane just recently with no boarding pass, they aren’t paying the attention that they need to.
            One would think that the process of figuring out what to screen before going onto a plane would be fairly straightforward.

          3. I think the 2002 security works, if they keep metal wands for metal detector alarms and upgrade a policy for those with medical conditions.

            Shoes on, reasonable liquid amounts – such as drinks , etc….

    4. Money Grab?

      Many things associated with the government have fees attached to them. The immigration process has a lot of fees. Passports cost money. As a tax preparer, I have to pay an annual fee to get a preparer number. Professional licenses cost money. If an organization wants tax-exempt status, there’s a filing fee that must be paid with the application. All of these are paid generally to help defray the costs of monitoring said programs. If you want to play..sometimes you have to pay a little money. At least this way, those that wish to get involved with the program pay the fee. Those that don’t … well, don’t pay the fee.

      Personally, if my local airport had the Pre-Check lines, I’d be sorely tempted to sign up.

  10. Wow, an appropriate and relevant poll question! I was able to read and then vote about what I thought regarding the focus of the article. Nice.

  11. Chris is correct. When you are denied, they don’t always tell you the reason why. I was denied for Global Entry program. I “appealed” to the ombudsman. Their reply was that I “don’t meet the eligibility requirements”. That’s it. Well, duh, I assumed that was why, but what was the exact reason? They also said that they cannot release information obtained from 3rd party background checks. This was $100 flushed down the toilet.

    1. I wonder if USIS does the background checking for Pre-Check. You know, the firm that botched the background check on the Pentagon shooter as well as on so many TSA employees.

    2. I feel for you. I won’t apply to make my business travel easier, based on personal grounds and I still hope to restore rights in the US.

      What is particularly galling is the government has a “secret program” with “secret criteria” with absolutely no recourse to address it in a legal fashion (one can’t sue the TSA in district court over constitutional grounds – so far – which means you can never get discovery or introduce evidence in your favor. Long story, trust me on this…).

      When I grew up, countries like the Soviet Union and East Germany had programs that used secret laws to control their citizens. Now, the US has them…..and this is fact, not overzealous opinion or hyperbole.

      It is also a lie they can’t release information from 3rd party background checks….mortgage companies do release that information at one’s request (on forms I have signed and seen the results).

      In short, you are just one of thousands who have had their rights trampled.

        1. I stand corrected….I was thinking he was denied precheck by the TSA. CBP does unconstitutional searches within 100 miles of the border, FYI. But, that is what happens when fears – the whole point of terrorism – are used to justify giving up liberties.

  12. as has been stated in previous comments, you have to be fingerprinted and FBI background checked (various degrees) to be:

    a teacher
    a real estate agent
    …many other state licensed & regulated professionals
    a DOD employee (active duty military or civilian)
    a police officer
    a mariner of any level (master, mate, or other)
    a boy scout or girl scout leader
    a public official of any kind that needs a security clearance
    a bank teller (or any bank employee)
    …and the list just keeps on going.

      1. not always but,…if you are teaching children, taking children camping, or representing a city, county, or other, ….etc or even handling loads of other people’s money…yes.

        Just like I want forced birth control for anyone receiving money from the gov. for children they can’t afford.

        Just like I want drug tests for those receiving welfare checks…actually, I don’t even want drug users to receive checks. Proven CLEAN former users maybe (via drug tests – to be paid by them via liens on future tax returns) but definitely no money for current users. Sorry I have no mercy for drug users, dealers, or anyone associated with them.

    1. I see, so to get a job or get a license you need to submit to state, local, or organizational laws
      That has nothing to do with travelling in my own country.

  13. I am most disturbed by the comments about VIPR or the roving check points at bus stations, ball games, or as one report had it, a road block on a highway. These procedures are a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. Additionally, if TSA or HS can do random checks anywhere, won’t State and local police be empowered to do the same? Congress once censured the efforts by Admiral Poindexter to inaugrate the “Total Awareness” program. It seems like we’re headed in that direction by mission creep.

    1. Actually, the TSA searches are usually done by non-law enforcement, which makes them an administrative search which circumvents the 4th amendment in several poorly judged cases by Judges. That being said, VIPR usually includes air marshals which are law enforcement so it just shows we are losing the 4th amendment even more.

      1. It seems to me that beyone boarding an aircraft, any search withoug a warrant or probable cause, regardless of who is doing the searching, is a violation of the 4th Amendment.

  14. When one buys a plane ticket there should be computer programs in place to check the background of the person buying the tickets. It is more important as to who is getting on the airplane rather than what is getting on the airplane.

    1. What proof do you have about your statement? I would suggest it is more important to search anyone getting on a plane, as that is more ‘secure’ than knowing who someone is.

      And I am not a fan, of course, of the TSA’s illegal scanners and pat downs. However, common sense though shows that if you don’t search someone, they could bring something in that is dangerous.

    1. Wow, a down vote just for that? Curious though, are the flags because of violating the rules, or because someone just doesn’t like what was said? After reading above, things seem relatively calm. I’ve seen worse on other posts.

      1. People are mostly flagging comments they disagree with on this post, but some of the comments are coming close to being personal attacks. The moderation team doesn’t tolerate personal attacks, and neither do I.

        I’m pretty sure I know who downvoted my original comment.

    2. You forgot “frequent” as a modifier for “flyer”. 🙂

      Thanks for the reminder. This is a touchy subject and some of the comments went pretty far afield and some were just downright disrespectful of other people’s opinions. Didn’t flag any though – the moderators are busy enough.

  15. TSA told us that “anyone could be a terrorist” when they started taking naked images of our children and groping them in 2010. Now they will give someone an exemption based on frequent flier status or their ability to pay a fee. This is no different than allowing people who buy a hybrid car or belong to AAA to ignore the speed limit.

    Why would the average person be happy about biased program that favors the frequent fliers and treats them as being “more equal” than others? We all pay the same amount for TSA and no one should get special treatment because they spend a lot with an airline or pay protection to TSA.

    Would people be happy if TSA offered this only to millionaires, whites, men or college graduates? If not then they should oppose this along with the exemptions for other “special” groups.

    If these security measures aren’t applied to everyone equally, then they simply won’t work and should be stopped. This blatantly is unequal and discriminatory treatment of average travelers who pay the same amount for government supplied security.

  16. I agree. We should be innocent until proven guilty. The TSA violates
    the 4th amendment on a daily basis. I think you have a good point about
    the 14th too. Not everyone has the funds to submit to their PreCheck
    program. Thank you very much.

  17. One nice aspect of the program is active duty military are allowed to use it with the presentation of an ID card. Since we’re already screened by the government anyway, and are a low risk group, this at least makes sense.

  18. I am a Libertarian and strong privacy advocate. I have no problem with PreCheck. As long as it remains 100% optional. Using PreCheck is optional, no one is forcing anyone to use it. I know I won’t. For that matter flying is also optional. I know I fly a lot less than I used to. I don’t travel any less, I just drive more.

  19. While certainly not the case for everyone… Many people have their fingerprints on file with the government because of work, applications for jobs or permits. I’m sure this is a deal breaker for some, but for many, it’s just another copy.

    As for the rest of the info they are looking for, they’re checking their databases, which means they already have it. It’s not like they’re sending someone to your neighbors house to find out about you.

    As for being denied because you did something stupid when you were younger. It happens, our actions have consequences, even if we did them when we were young and stupid. If you did something that might come up then either don’t apply or stop by an office and ask. You probably won’t get a yes or no answer. But if you get the right person you might a hint as to whether it’s worth it.

  20. I have been with pre-check for since the program started in ATL. Occasionally I am sent to regular lines. I am global entry which required a lot more information–most of which the government already had. And my spouse, a naturalized citizen, is also in the trusted traveler and global entry programs. The government already had every detail about my spouse.
    With the exception of fingerprints the government has most of these details on us already. They have photographs if we have any government ID, they have birth dates, marriage dates, information on driving violations, criminal activity and anything we put on social media. People get frequent shopper cards, they sign up for specials, use the GPS feature on phones that allows them to be tracked at all times, and many tell all on Facebook. We voluntarily gave up most of our privacy years ago. And we only scream about it when someone tells us too.

  21. I must have a higher than average “outrage” threshhold. I just can’t get worked up about this. As a gov. contractor with a high-level security clearance, I’ve undergone so much background investigation, fingerprinting and polygraphing, that I assume everything I do (including typing this) is monitored at all times and all my activities are filed somewhere….But I’d “keep my nose clean” anyway, because that’s who I am so I don’t worry about my fingerprints being on file (also, I really like my job). But, regardless of how you feel about fingerprints, background checks etc… signing up for Pre-Check is still a CHOICE. I don’t get why people are upset by an OPTIONAL enrollment. Do it; don’t do it. Give your information; don’t give it. *Shrug* Much ado about nothing, methinks.

  22. All I can say is, thanks for keeping us safe! Everyone who complains about having to take their shoes off would complain more not knowing how safe their travel would be. The government has more info on you than you think and could get more if needed to with or without your approval.

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