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June 25, 2009

More on Clear, the Registered Traveler Program Gone Missing

by Barbara S. Peterson

Two days after the sudden shutdown of Clear, the country's biggest registered traveler program, the behavior of the parties responsible is stoking outrage. Apparently the mostly anonymous folks who were running Clear after the all-too-visible Steve Brill got pushed out as CEO in February have done the expected thing: gone underground

However, "acting CEO" Jim Maroney did take time to hold a conference call with airports and the TSA.  The TSA is still acting like it has nothing to do with what it describes as a "market driven private sector program" it midwifed into being, a fiction that blogger Danny Sullivan ably destroys.

The airports at least had the decency to share what transpired during that call, because there's a big question about what will happen to all that personal information a quarter million people gladly shared with the company to save the time and uncertainty involved in navigating the airport security mess.

I still have my old, expired Clear card so I tried calling the number on the back:  866-848-2415. No luck. It just rang and rang. I called Delta, the biggest airline partner of Clear, and am waiting to hear back. Then I looked up the investors.  Spark Capital, the Massachusetts venture capital firm best known for its backing of Twitter, coughed up $44 million in funding not long ago. Not surprisingly, they won't return calls seeking comment.

But the buck stops at the TSA,whose dissembling--on top of their mishandling of this and other improvements (witness the demise of the 'puffer machines' they bought at great taxpayer expense)--is the true scandal here. While they are officially not commenting, at least as a government agency they'll have to answer the inevitable questions from Congress.

So readers...  do you or did you have a Clear card and what are you doing about it?

Did you renew it recently when the company was aggressively hawking multi-year memberships at a discount?   What did you think of the service? 

Further reading:
* Waiting for the All Clear (CNT/Aug. 2008)
* On the Fly: Barbara Peterson on the airline industry


the TSA is part of Homeland Security; therefor...they have carte blanche to do anything or nothing, to say anything or nothing, without question, criticism or consequence. We asked for this system and we got it. Thank you for your support.

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